Historically, rural schools have been geographically and politically isolated to the extent that some might say that they have been the victims of, or beneficiaries from, an unstated government policy of benign neglect. Recently, conditions and relationships have changed with the enactment of state and federal accountability legislation and legal challenges to the constitutionality of state funding systems for schools. Federal concerns about the quality of teachers and the progress of students are accompanied by state standards, proficiency tests for high school graduation, and school report cards. Most of these requirements are unfunded or under-funded mandates. However, rural schools likely will benefit from the recent shift in school finance litigation from a single emphasis on equity to a dual interest in equity and adequacy. If education is a state responsibility, then in an era of state-mandated standards and assessments, the state has an inherent responsibility to ensure that students have access to the human and material resources required for them to meet standards and pass state proficiency examinations.

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