Latest Arkansas Policy Program Report Provides Case Study of Challenges in Improving Rural Education
CONWAY, Ark. (August 20*, 2019) – Treating struggling public schools with a “one-size-fits-all” approach tends to help rural schools least of all, according to a new report from the Arkansas Policy Program (APP).
Adam Williams ’19, an international relations major and psychology minor who graduated from Hendrix magna cum laude, spent much of his senior year researching the Earle School District in the Arkansas Delta and developing a case study that leads readers to consider the multiple challenges rural schools face on the path to positive transformation. The result is this APP report, Learning from Earle: Determining Best Practices for Rural Education Policy. Issued by the Arkansas Policy Project at Hendrix College in collaboration with ForwARd Arkansas and with support from the Rural Community Alliance, Learning from Earle highlights the need to consider the distinctive attributes of schools in need of improvement.
The most common school turnaround strategies work best for schools in urban settings—particularly problematic in Arkansas, which has a higher proportion of its students in rural schools than all but a handful of other states. Already under-resourced schools seldom benefit from firing staff, closing down entirely, or pursuing charter-based strategies because these options fail to address the inherent challenges of a declining rural population.