Strange,Johnson, Showalter, & Klein (2012) in association with the Rural School andCommunity Trust and MCREL (2012), states that in the United States 56% of allschool districts are considered rural with 32% of those rural school districtsbeing public schools. McRel (2012) data also states that 19 to 25% of allstudents in the United States attend rural schools. Therefore, rural schoolscomprise an important piece of the pie in our nation’s public schools(nces.ed.
gov/surveys/ruraled/). The number of rural schools is contingent on thedefinition used to define rural areas and schools; however, the definition ofrural is ambiguous, since its meaning tends to vary with the perspective of thedefining individual (Wallin & Sackney, 2003). McLaughlin, Huberman, andHawkins (1997) noted that in 1993/94, nearly half of the regular public schooldistricts in the U.S.
were rural, and about 8,000 of the nation’s 84,000 publicschools were classified as both small and rural. Onestudy published by MCREL 92011) suggested the number of students who attendrural schools in the U.S. ranges between 1.1 and 11.6 million (Arnold et al.
,2004). Another paper published by MCREL (Arnold, 2004) found that about 7.2million students attended school in a rural community with a population of2,500 or less in 2001. More recent research by Strange, Johnson, Showalter, andKlein (2012) and MCREL (2012) states that there are 11,251,481 students who areconsidered rural. In that 20 number are 7,757 rural school districts, 31,026rural schools, and 858,000 students. With those numbers, Strange, Johnson,Showalter, and Klein (2012) state that 56% of the school districts in theUnited States are rural with 32% of those being public schools.
Expectationsof rural superintendents are similar to those of urban and suburban districtleaders, yet the expectations from various factions are exceptionally high forrural superintendents (Sharp et al., 2001). These rural leaders must be specialindividuals. Today’s rural administrators need to be able to communicate wellwith staff, teachers, students, parents, and community members.
In a survey ofrural school board presidents, respondents listed desirable traits of ruralsuperintendents that included honesty, integrity, good moral character, andgood personality (Kennedy & Barker, 1987). In other words, ruralsuperintendents must be 25 special leaders, and in some cases, miracle workersin order to face the many obstacles that may come their way.