"Between 2002-03 and 2004-05, enrollment in schools located in communities of fewer than 2,500 increased by 1,339,000 (or 15%)," write Jerry Johnson and Marty Strange, policy analysts for the non-profit Rural School and Community Trust. School enrollment in larger communities (populations over 2,500) fell by 2% in this same period.
The study calls "most startling" its finding that the number of minority students increased 55% in rural schools, "with some states experiencing increases of over 100%." Rural schools in the Southeast and Southwest are the most ethnically diverse in the nation.
[Update--When I noted this to my sister, a former teacher, I looked at the figures and said, they can't be right. It didn't seem right that rural areas would have roughly 10 million students. I'm not sure what's going on, but this table from the Department of Education seems to show less than 1 million students in rural areas (plus towns under 2,500) in 2002. It might be the authors just slipped a zero somewhere. Or it might be I don't understand at all.]