Why Rural Schools Matter

Front Cover
UNC Press Books, 2014 - Education - 236 pages
From headlines to documentaries, urban schools are at the center of current debates about education. From these accounts, one would never know that 51 million Americans live in rural communities and depend on their public schools to meet not only educational but also social and economic needs. For many communities, these schools are the ties that bind. Why Rural Schools Matter shares the untold story of rural education. Drawing upon extensive research in two southern towns, Mara Tieken exposes the complicated ways in which schools shape the racial dynamics of their towns and sustain the communities that surround them. The growing power of the state, however, brings the threat of rural school closure, which jeopardizes the education of children and the future of communities. With a nuanced understanding of the complicated relationship between communities and schools, Tieken warns us that current education policies--which narrow schools' purpose to academic achievement alone--endanger rural America and undermine the potential of a school, whether rural or urban, to sustain a community. Vividly demonstrating the effects of constricted definitions of public education in an era of economic turmoil and widening inequality, Tieken calls for a more contextual approach to education policymaking, involving both state and community.

 

Contents

The Meaning of a School
1
Rural Histories
10
Researching Rural
29
Where the Heart Is School Relationships and the Delight Community
48
The Ties That Bind Schools Stories and the Black Community of Earle
85
The Topography of Race
117
The Substance of Community
140
Our Only Hope
160
The Possibility of Public Education
176
Epilogue
189
Notes
191
Bibliography
207
Index
223
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About the author (2014)

Mara Casey Tieken is assistant professor of education at Bates College and coauthor of Inside Urban Charter Schools: Promising Practices and Strategies in Five High-Performing Schools.