The Role of Schools in Community Development in a Rural Context

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Schools have long played a key role in the development and growth of rural communities. Some degree of ambiguity surrounds the term “rural”, although the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA, 2013) defines the term as any community containing a labor-market of fewer than 50,000 people. Changing populations, concepts of education and beliefs about the school’s role in the community, have resulted in some debate about rural schools and community relationships.

Schools are particularly important to rural areas because of the geographic remoteness of these locations, low population density, and vulnerability to economic fluctuations. Teachers often represent local communities’ strongest connection to contemporary educational and social research and, thus, professionals in the education field face a key responsibility of educating the population and enhancing the education system.

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