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MSU study suggests state policies fail rural schools

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Researchers asked 25 rural school superintendents in Michigan about their most problematic issues.

A new Michigan State University report indicates state educational policies are hurting rural school districts.

Researchers asked 25 rural school superintendents in Michigan about their most problematic issues.

The report found teacher recruitment and retention, student mental health and access to broadband funding to be among their top concerns.

Lead author and Michigan State University professor of education policy David Arsen says investing in rural schools ultimately benefits their surrounding communities.

“Improvements in educational opportunities will help spur community development growth, and community development will help reinforce the opportunities that are available to kids,” Arsen said.

Arsen adds education officials must focus on initiatives that afford equity and local control to rural communities.

“The state needs to address some areas in which market forces seriously disadvantage rural school districts in broadband access, in hiring teachers and providing skilled mental health professionals,” he said.

Arsen calls the 2023 Michigan education budget “generational,” and “a huge step forward.”

He says the state has to be mindful of the link between school investment and community growth.

Arsen is presenting his findings this week at the annual meeting of the Michigan Association of State Superintendents and Administrators in Traverse City.

Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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