Poster Paper: Schooling in Small Towns: What Rural Americans Think of K–12 Education

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Exhibit Hall C - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Michael Shaw and Andrew D. Catt, EdChoice

Proposal Title: Schooling in Small Towns: What Rural Americans Think of K12 Education

Proposal Type: Poster Presentation Submitted To: APPAM 40th Annual Fall Conference
Washington, D.C.: November 8–10, 2018 Abstract

The needs and political sway of small town and rural America came into the national spotlight following the 2016 elections, as these areas’ relative lack of economic opportunity prompted promotions of populist trade, domestic, and national security policies. But a primary driver of economic opportunity – education – and its policy implications related to the rural context have not garnered the same level of attention. An oversample of small town and rural residents in a 2017 national K–12 education poll helps reveal these insights. Using these and related data, this poster will examine levels, margins, and intensities among small town and rural Americans’ views of various school experience and education policy impressions, including schooling satisfaction, school sector preferences, educational choice policies and reform, and knowledge about education spending. Regarding the role of the federal government in K–12 education, small town and rural residents were significantly less likely to say they can trust the federal government always, most, or some of the time than urban residents and suburbanites. Presenting these findings in the context of demographic, socio-economic, and school sector differences between rural respondents and the overall sample is imperative to understanding the rural cultural divide. For instance, a lack of alternative educational options such as charter and private schools – as well as the outsized employment pull small town and rural public school districts can have in their communities – may explain some of these community type differences. Comparing these results to a similar 2018 poll, as well as various national surveys, can provide policymakers, educators, and educational entrepreneurs important insight when attempting to provide for and increase educational opportunities in small town and rural communities.