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Rural Matters

Jun 5, 2018

Our new host, Mara Casey Tieken, author of Why Rural Schools Matter, chats with Kai Schafft, associate professor of education and director of the Center on Rural Education and Communities at Penn State University, and associate editor of the Journal of Research in Rural Education about five specific rural myths. Myth #1: Rural voters are more conservative than urban voters. A close analysis of 2016 election finds a more complex situation, in which many—though not all—rural communities and small towns leaned Republican. Myth # 2: Rural America is “white America.” While there is some truth in that generalization, about 15% of rural America is made up of people of color, and there are four states in which the majority of their rural school districts serve predominantly non-white children. In addition, rural America is rapidly growing more diverse. Myth #3: All rural areas are in economic decline. That’s true for certain areas but definitely not all. Myth #4: Rural places are all the same. There’s no truth to this myth, according to Schafft, which leads to an overgeneralization of who rural people are and what rural areas actually look like. Myth #5: Rural is the opposite of urban. While there are fundamental differences, Schafft notes, rural diversity complicates this comparison. The reality is that we live in an interconnected, global world, not in “self-contained” communities.