Why Rural Schools Matter

By Mara Casey Tieken

246 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1848-7
    Published: October 2014
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-1849-4
    Published: October 2014
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4602-0
    Published: October 2014

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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.

About the Author

Mara 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.
For more information about Mara Casey Tieken, visit the Author Page.


"An excellent example of scholarship that will lead to greater interest in and understanding of the field of rural education.” —Journal of Research in Rural Education

“A thorough and well-researched look into the impact and history of rural schools and how that story has changed over time as a result of an increasing focus on urban schools. . . . Adds an important voice to the current conversation about education reform.” —Tennessee Libraries

"Ambitious, evocatively and engagingly written, and passionately argued, Tieken's volume represents a critical contribution to scholarship on the relationship between rural schools and the communities they serve." —Kai Schafft, Pennsylvania State University

"In an educational climate frequently dominated by issues related to urban schooling, this is a vibrant and timely story that must be told." —Cheryl Mason Bolick, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill