While I understand and respect what you’re saying, I’d also offer this: The government stepped in and mandated western-style education in Inuit parts of Alaska, and destroyed an entire culture and way of life. While I undisputedly value education, the notion that westernized government-sponsored education and healthcare being “offered” to citizens is the answer to all problems, in all circumstances, is simply not the case — whether one “takes” it or not.
As for those who’ve left — that’s a realistic decision that must be made by every individual in Appalachia and is not unique. Whatever their choice — to leave or stay — can only be decided by them as individuals, based on their wants and needs. But I have chose (and will continue to choose) to stay in the holler and work on a grass roots level to create change from within my own community. Money-making Brooklynites who bring mama home some “dough” during holidays is fine, if that’s what works for them. But I value seeing my family more often than just the holidays, so staying closer — even if that means *gasp* less income over my lifetime — is just fine with me. To judge based on whether someone decides to stay or leave seems somewhat unfair, in my humble option.