|Rural students face educational challenges|
More students in the United States attend rural schools than the 100 largest school districts combined. However, rural students lack access to school psychologists and counselors, broadband internet, and school transportation. The just released 2023 Why Rural Matters report by the National Rural Education Association highlights the challenges faced by rural schools and emphasizes the need for prioritizing rural students in education policy discussions. The report reveals that rural students have limited access to mental health care, with a higher student-to-counselor ratio compared to non-rural districts. It also shows that rural schools have smaller achievement gaps between students living in poverty and those who aren't. However, racial disparities exist, with Black and Hispanic students being underrepresented in gifted and talented programs. The report calls for policymakers to invest in mental health resources, provide equitable funding, and support teacher pay equity. Reductions in funding, such as proposed cuts to the federal Title I program, could further exacerbate existing inequities in rural education, the report warns.