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Teacher Recruitment, Retention Not an Easy Fix for Rural Schools

It's a challenge for many rural schools to find and keep high-quality teachers, and the solution is neither simple nor clear.

An article published last week in Time magazine focuses on that problem through the perspective of Friars Point Elementary, a 150-student elementary school in Friars Point, Miss. The high-poverty, rural school has to replace as many as half of its teachers in a typical year.

The story points out that the country's current answer to improving schools—hiring the best teachers and removing ineffective ones— is a strategy "designed largely with struggling urban school districts in mind" and "breaks down in impoverished small towns." The strategy neglects the needs of rural schools, according to the story.

The district has tried different approaches, such as using Teach for America, which hires ambitious college graduates of all majors, gives them an abbreviated period of training, and places them in high-need schools for two years. But most of those educators leave after that two-year commitment, according to the story.

Educators have different ideas about what rural schools should do. Some think they should grow their own. Others think they need to improve their marketing and recruitment efforts. Either way, the future of these rural schools, and communities, depends on how well they address the problem.

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