We exist to provide an equal opportunity for all learners to make a difference in the world.
We focus on the 17% of students enrolled in rural schools.
Rural schools are rich in community, history, and connections, yet struggle with poverty, outcomes, and sustainability.
- Poverty: 26.2% of children live in poverty in rural areas as compared to 21% nationally. In 23 states, the majority of rural students live in poverty.
- Recruitment: While recruitment rates have improved across all school types in the United States, rural schools continue to have persistent challenges to filling positions - especially hard-to-fill positions.
- Outcomes: Results from the NAEP 8th grade assessments in math and literacy suggest that scores are lower than national averages the farther from an urban area a school is located.
- Community: Nationally, rural communities have seen a consistent decrease in populations as young people leave for more opportunities in urban areas. This leads to a decreased tax base which impacts schools. Additional challenges emerge when students attend college but do not return to their home communities.
- Innovation: Due to funding formulas, school innovation funding has less impact in rural schools. Additionally, rural schools tend to have less access to university and corporate partners that accelerate innovation.
- STE(A)M: The ability to think creatively, use technology wisely, and build entrepreneurship opportunities is critical for students to find success in the future. While rural students have shown to have excellent problem solving skills and live in areas full of opportunity for STEM learning, rural school rarely are able to incorporate STEM into the classroom. Rural schools present large opportunities for STEM implementation within their community, but often struggle to implement STEM education well.
Significant opportunities and challenges exist in our world. Place Network is a model designed to address both learner needs and community challenges.
Local and global challenges need innovative solutions.
The challenges and opportunities faced by the world are immense. As articulated in the Goals for Sustainable Development, professionals in the future will need both the skills and dispositions to create innovative solutions to local challenges. To do this, students need to complete real projects that address real challenges to be prepared for the modern world. We believe that this must happen on a local level, everywhere.
Learners need a different model.
Students need to move from a standardized, inflexible, compliant, and disconnected curriculum to an adaptive, innovative, personalized, learner-centered model.
Communities need involvement and engagement.
Local hands-on community engagement and participation has dropped over the last fifty years.
Students are not connecting with local places.
While online educational models are rapidly increasing there is a corresponding decrease in students engaging in the world outside of their homes and schools - both natural and human built.
Learning networks need to expand opportunity from school to entire communities.
The entire community around a school can be engaged as a learning opportunity to increase personalization, relevance, and engagement.