Public education in rural America is in sharp decline. This is a crisis that strikes at the very foundation of our democratic republic and impacts the economic future of rural areas.
There are a number of reasons for this decline:
- Declining tax base (real estate and personal property) that is the primary source of funding
- Declining funding levels from state government
- Inability to attract staff due to low or uncompetitive pay
- Inability to attract staff due to the quality of life in small towns due to declining local economies
- Declining political and social support for public education
- Rise of alternatives to public education (charter and private schools, homeschooling)
- Political interference in areas such as curriculum development, information access, teacher training, and administration.
What many small town leaders don’t seem to understand is that there is a symbiotic relationship between economic development and education. Since there are few or no alternatives to public education in most rural areas, a strong and high quality public education system is critical to increased economic development, developing a high quality workforce, and attracting families to move into a town or city.
PFTH is deeply committed to restoring faith in public education and works to hold political and education leadership accountable for maintaining high standards with respect to curriculum and staffing and adequate levels of funding, working with leadership to ensure that public education and public education policy continues to meet the demands of the 21st century.