Attrition: The Real Problems With Urban Schools and Recruiters

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November 7, 2005: The U.S. Department of Defense sees urban schools as ones of its biggest recruiting obstacles. Not because leftist teachers in some of those schools try to keep recruiters out, but because so many potential recruits have to be turned down because of the poor education they have received in those schools. While only 21 percent of Americans live in rural areas, 44 percent of the qualified recruits come from these areas. What's strange about all this is that the rural areas spend much less, per pupil, on education, but get much better results. Part of this can be attributed to differences in cost of living, but a lot of it has to do with simply getting more done with less. Per capita, young people in rural areas are 22 percent more likely to join the army, than those of the same age in urban areas. 

The rural recruits are also a lot easier to train, and generally make better soldiers. The urban recruits often have a bad attitude, as well as a difficult time getting along with others, and following instructions. The urban schools deserve some of the blame for this, while rural schools tend to be far more orderly, and put more emphasis on civil responsibility. Many of the urban recruits are aware of these problems, and joined the service to learn useful (for getting a job) social skills. Those skills are more often found among rural recruits because out in the boondocks, people are more involved with local government, and more involved in general. This has been noted in urban neighborhoods, and for decades, many urban parents have sought to send their kids, "to live with kinfolk in the country" to get the child away from the bad influences of urban life. 

Over the last decade, there's been a movement back to the rural areas. Urban areas may be more exciting, and offer more employment opportunities, but they are a tough place to raise kids, or find suitable recruits for the military.