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Former Sen. John Edwards says he cares passionately about rural schools. He is, in fact, a product of them. Felt like a "hick" as the first member of his poor family to go to college.
And Edwards wants to do more for rural schools, to give more children like him the chance to have experiences like his.
But this statement, made during his education platform speech, falls flat on fact. One need only to look at the very sources his campaign cites as his supporting documents — the National Education Association and the National Center for Education Statistics — to see that the former vice presidential candidate and his team read the headlines, but not the details.
The NEA actually says on its Web site that rural — and small — schools account for 40 percent of the nation's public school students. In an e-mail, a spokesman for the NEA said rural schools alone enroll about 20 percent of the nation's students.
That fits with the National Center for Education Statistics breakdown of figures in a June 2007 report. That report shows that rural schools account for 31 percent of the nation's schools and enroll 21.3 percent of the nation's students.
Those schools get 18 percent of all federal funding, not 22 percent, the NCES report further shows. That's actually lower than what Edwards said, but since the enrollment is half of what Edwards claimed, the big disparity he was seeking to illustrate just isn't there. Using sources provided by his own campaign, we rate this Edwards statement to be "False."
National Center for Education Statistics, Status of Education in Rural America , June 2007
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