Balow Participates in National Discussion on Rural Education
Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow was recently part of a national conversation on rural education that was the culmination of 18 months of collaboration on a newly released book, “No Longer Forgotten: The Triumphs and Struggles of Rural Education in America.”
The book talk and panel was held at The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. April 10.
Balow explained her unique position, having attended school at one of the largest school districts in Wyoming and having taught at one of the smallest.
The book, co-edited by fellow panelist Andy Smarick and Michael McShane, focuses on the question, with more than half the school districts in the nation considered rural school systems, why is rural education being left out of the conversation?
Some of the challenges small, rural districts face are higher principal turnover, persistent poverty and low college admittance rates.
Balow said she wants to change the stereotype that rural schools are somehow inferior to urban schools in some way. What some may see as challenges, she points to as markers of resiliency throughout rural states.
Balow would also like to redefine what’s referred to as brain-drain in rural communities.
“I think it indicates that the smart people leave,” she explained, “and if you’re not smart, you stay in the town, and that’s bothersome at the core.”
According to Balow, jobs, great people and great education is what makes a vibrant rural community.
“It’s really important for us all to push those boundaries and to rethink, if you’re staying in a rural community, it doesn’t mean you weren’t good enough to leave.”
Click here to view the full panel discussion.