The rise of rural charter schools throughout the country presents administrators with a new set opportunities and challenges, which may require a different approach than that of dealing with city schools.
Charter schools, though increasingly touted (and criticized) by educators, administrators and lawmakers, remains in some sense predominantly an urban mainstay. 56.5% of charters are located in a city, while only 10% of charter schools are located in urban areas, according to the National Center for Education Statistics data.
But the number of rural charters is on the rise; more than 200,000 students attend charter schools in rural areas, with California having the highest number at 114 schools. More than 200 rural charters have been opened since 2010, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Todd Ziebarth, the senior vice president of state advocacy and support at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said that while it would be a misconception that charter schools only teach students in urban areas, some charter founders in urban communities have benefited from improving charter laws in numerous states, as well as more access to federal charter school grants and increased familiarity within communities.
“It’s not for the lighthearted and it’s a significant undertaking,” he said. “And perhaps people have gotten more comfortable with them and are willing to take the risk.”