Teachers, students, and rural communities know the inherent value of small schools, and education researcher, Lorna Jimerson, agrees. Jimerson’s widely acclaimed “The Hobbit Effect” highlighted how students benefit from attending smaller schools. Her research found that when socio-economic factors are taken into account, children in smaller schools are academically more successful, have higher graduation rates, take more advanced courses, and participate in extra-curricular activities to a higher degree.
But public assumptions about small schools—rural schools in particular—run counter to Jimerson’s findings. Therefore, it is incumbent upon rural school advocates to do all they can to change misguided perceptions about the relationship between small schools and student success.
Arkansas’ Rural Community Alliance has made great strides in their social marketing efforts, and their multi-faceted statewide effort to illustrate the importance of small schools to both students and community played a valuable role in RCA’s successful effort to gain legislative relief from Act 60, an Arkansas law that forcibly consolidated any school district that fell below 350 students.
“We’ve definitely witnessed the power of social marketing over the last few months,” reported Candace Williams, RCA executive director. “We utilized Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, an online petition, and calls and emails to legislators” Williams added, "I met the Governor at an event in April and as soon as he saw my name badge he said, ’Rural Community Alliance, I'm very familiar with your work.’ At that moment I realized the power of social marketing and our membership.”
We believe that developing strong social marketing strategies and tools are key elements of capacity building. This is why the Rural Schools Collaborative made a capacity building grant to the Rural Community Alliance, which allowed them to produce three short films that were used extensively in their Act 60 campaign.
We invite you to view this short film, The Benefits of Small Schools. Not only will see a fine example of social marketing, but you will be reminded of what our work is all about.
Please contact the Rural Schools Collaborative if you would like to discuss a capacity building grant or working with us to promote the value of small, rural schools in your region.
February 22, 2021
Thank you to the National Rural Education Association for co-sponsoring the 4th Annual National Signature Project grant.
February 2, 2021
The University of Indianapolis' Center for Excellence in Leadership of Learning will serve as the Hub Anchor.