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bikinkawboy
Veteran Contributor

Re: Small Town Schools

There's something to be said about a school where parents and grandparents show up for a school program and there's the same old piano that all three generations have been serenaded to.  Or your grandkid plays on the same playground equipment that you did.  Continuity is a vital part of life both at home and in the community.  And don't forget that your kids education isn't the sole responsibility of the local schoolteacher.  Parents need to be reading to their kids long before they start school.

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Small Town Schools

Jim, I felt like a real hypocrite, when we moved into this backwards county in NC, from a fairly mainstream rural one in VA, in the mid-nineties...for placing our two of three kids still in high school into a private academy. Not that the school itself was academically so much better, but it was at least cloistered enough to be safe. Safety in the public schools here was not - and still is not - at al assured. Their math skills were far enough ahead that they both breezed through all the math offered here. That was out of the same system (consolidated countywide) in VA that Mike and I had graduated from in 1972. My math SATs garnered a couple of unsolicited scholarships and a solicitation by the head of the math department, to major in math. I kick myself that I didn't do it. As for communities falling by the wayside, I think our county is a sad example of it. The county seat has so many empty storefronts now, it is pitiful. What is left is essentially as noted: home health and a senior center, day reporting center for people on parole and probation, mental health office and lawyers and the courts. Doctor and pharmacy. A diner to feed them and the county employees, mostly in social services and health department, so Medicaid. It is all a vicious cycle of poor health, poor behavior, and the expensive publicly-funded stopgaps to deal with that. It can be worse: The county just to our west has three school systems, and two are city schools that protect the middle class from mingling/slumming. The third system is so bad, the state took it over twice, and struggles to hand it back again the second time...mostly pushing to disassemble the three-system escape mechanism, hoping dilution is the solution. It promises to be an interesting battle. Rural America is wonderful to live in, and terrible to live in...depending upon what you want for your present, and your children's future. We see it clearly, because, like you, we have lived more than one place. Those who haven't can just live in the illusion of it all being hunky-dory.
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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Small Town Schools

Honestly, if these terrorist events continue in more populous areas, I think you will see that the part of the population that doesn't really need upscale schools will potentially move outward. There was some urban flight post 9/11, and this even more-diffuse threat is still very daunting. That does, in part, depend upon technology allowing certain functions to be decentralized out of city centers. The good thing is that wireless technologies can supplant many that required major infrastructure investment just a few years ago. There is alos some good indication that some sectors are understanding how to make other sectors more stable, by spreading out across the map. That said, nobody is moving to our region for the schools, and no one yet has identified anything other than solar farms as a growth sector. They get too much of a tax break to do us much good on the tax coffers....
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sw363535
Honored Advisor

Re: Small Town Schools

Not sure Kay.  Not sure there will be anything to move back too.

We need that to happen, but if a young couple came back to this town to open a business the few surviving business people would try to block the competition...

When folks leave,,, even just the kids, there is a loss of economic activity that hurts a community....... We all want the shoppers to come back but no one wants competition.......

Even when competition is what we need most..

k-289
Senior Advisor

Re: Small Town Schools

SW  -  I'm thinking about the phrase from -   ''''  Ivan Boesky   - Gordon Gekko '''  about the good things that we are witnessing ?

 

Maybe the  '' Land  Grant '''  institutions might be careful what they wish for  ---

 

 Remember to make America Great Again  ---

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Small Town Schools

Boy, this one really hit home today! Stopped by for the final clearance sale of my young friend's vintage shop. She relocated within the county seat village about two years ago, and the formerly thriving resale business she had run for a couple of years prior dropped dead as a doornail. The grocery store behind it closed, one month before she opened in a building they bought. She lost all the incidental traffic that had kept her going successfully. Today, the florist, who is a generation older, and who had recently closed in his rented location down the street, is now buying her out... and restarting his shop in her spot. He was one of the ones who really felt she would hurt HIS business four years ago. Now, her failure is his new opportunity. I happen to like them both, very much. They were both in fact in the shop when I stopped in today. I got hugs from him, then her. Hers came with tears.... Sad to see young people struggle. Yet, he had naught to do with her failure in business, and buying them out of a dead dream maybe ends a financial nightmare for them. Bad when there is only room for one generation at a time...probably an issue with many farming families, too.
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sw363535
Honored Advisor

Re: Small Town Schools

This one keeps coming back in the mind....

 

I understand the school becomes the last line of defense in a loosing battle.

 

But schools give the best clues to the health of a community, long before they are down to two street lights.  And their graduates tell you how good the schools are doing....

 

When is the last time you hired a welder who can explain the excitement of solid geometry.....

Doesn't happen....... Most HS graduates in the last 20 years got "playing time" instead, and the enjoyment of physics only came from a strength coach.  

 

But it is not the teachers who do or don't educate, it is the parents who do or don't expect education...

 

We live in times when a student can access more information while driving than he could find in a 1960's school library.  But never stores or uses that information.  He will go get it if he needs it on his way to his first head-on.

It is not that a school can't hire good teachers,  it is a community that will drive out a good teacher if she expects little johnnie to use his brain beyond a video game.

 

Small towns are in a perplexing spot.... Going with the wind as young folks move to the cities for a future and maybe obscurity.  We have been in an economic decline since the 1970's.

Numbers can be generated to show differently, because the folks who create the numbers keep changing the formula's to get better numbers, but I think it is true....1976 may have been the last good year economically.

Without the technology boom that carried Clinton's era(and benefited the few) the economic graph has to be hung on the wall in a steep angle.  And really, try to sit down and explain what all that technology did to education......are we more advanced in education??  

I'll give you education,  education is when the guy who buys the tractor can drive a straight line without the tractor doing it for him. He understands the workings of the process.  That same farmer will be the first to say "go easy on my kid" he doesn't need to know how it works.....I don't and that is enough these days...

That father buys somewhere else or on the internet and gripes because there isn't a local Restaurant to his liking that will take his new "Gold Card".

 

It is very different than back when most fathers had known poverty or war and wanted their boy to have a better education than he did and would oppose a teacher that didn't push the kids to achieve.

That is the difference in small towns.  The people...

 

--------------

 

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smokeyjay
Advisor

Re: Small Town Schools

Agree with you.  Our experience reflects the small town attitude as well. It is it's own worst enemy. Our children excelled in academics but there was no opportunity for them to flourish here. All live elsewhere and are thriving. The unwelcoming spirit extends through the entire community, including farm families. To explain that, I divide farming families into three  distinct camps. One is for prominent families that expand acres at a phenomenal rate. They are the first to capture acres from retirees and investors. Their children marry into other prominent families, solidifying their hold on prominence.  The third group are those that struggle to keep the acres they already farm. There is a middle group between these two, doing well in all aspects of farm management, but their numbers dwindle as they have no apparent heirs wanting to farm.

 

About five years ago, I had an interesting conversation with a prominent family member in another community.  She was telling me how they can pick and choose the best land to pickup from retiring farmers. Already farming XXXXX acres, they turned down an offer to take over another 3k unit, stating they really didn't want to expand and work longer hours. I suggested she could help another young aspiring man or woman to get a foothold, and she said "no, not interested."  Long story short, they like to be in charge.  Nobody does anything in our community without our consent or input, she says. 

 

Not long ago, I visited that community. It is dying a slow death. I would never want to live there, even if it were the last place on earth.  Fear of the unknown, fear of what a little competition that may show us up, is a controlling fear that can stifle a community. 

 

 

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smokeyjay
Advisor

Re: Small Town Schools

Coop managers, perhaps. Not teachers. In our community, it is the dentists, accountants, top level managers and doctors, plus pharmacists. Our college is notorious for being on the bottom ranking of pay for it's professors.  

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BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: Small Town Schools

It`s tough being a doctor these days, they might make half more or double that of a teacher, but the hours are much longer and the student loans haunt them well into their career.  Many towns can`t support a healthcare clinic.   Dentists make good, but it`s also tough, they have to hustle.  Pharmacists, have to follow the game to make the big bucks, small town druggists only get the business when it`s convinient or the patients go to a Walmart Pharmacy. 

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