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Impacts of Unconventional Oil and Gas Booms on Public Education

Impacts of Unconventional Oil and Gas Booms on Public Education

Full Title: Impacts of Unconventional Oil and Gas Booms on Public Education
Author(s): Nathan Ratledge and Laura Zachary
Publisher(s): Resources For the Future
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

Unconventional oil and gas development has revolutionized the global energy marketplace, particularly in the United States. Rapid industry expansion has also had significant and widespread impacts at the community level. This study provides an in-depth look at pre-K–12 educational impacts across six oil- and gas-producing states—Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, and Colorado—to understand the benefits and challenges of the recent resource booms on student enrollment, teachers, public education finances, and student achievement metrics. Understanding the effects of such booms on public education is significant in the short and long term, notably because of their potential influence on educational achievement, career-based decisionmaking, and subsequently, the economic health of a community. A mixed-methods design, coupling difference-in-difference statistical analysis with extensive interviews, reveals a series of key insights across and within states. Broadly, we find divergent trends in student enrollment, student-teacher ratios, and per pupil revenue and expenses between school districts in the eastern versus western United States. In contrast to much of the existing literature, interviews across all regions reported minimal concern with increased dropout rates. Stress from financial uncertainty was also acute and common across all boom districts. Taken together, this analysis underscores the importance of the mixed-methods approach and cautions against overgeneralization of effects across disparate boom regions.

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