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Rural News Round-Up: Ed. Dept. Tech Summit, Closing Schools

U.S. Department of Education Hosts Rural Education Technology Summit

More than 1,200 educators and students from across the country logged on Monday to the National Rural Education Technology Summit hosted by federal officials.

The online meeting was designed to give rural educators ideas and information on how technology can be used to overcome distance and increase access in their schools.

Conference presenters have posted all of the sessions online, and topics covered included college access, civic responsibility in Native American communities, broadband, professional development tools, and implementation of college and career-readiness standards.

I listened in to the brief opening speech given by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, but he didn't delve into any issues. He welcomed those who were online and gave an overview of the day's sessions.

Another webinar will be hosted by federal leaders Thursday on dropout prevention in rural areas, but the session already is full (I tried unsuccessfully to register).

Nebraska Legislation Leads To Closure Of Dozens Of Small Schools

Nebraska state lawmakers decided seven years ago to merge Class 1 districts, or small schools serving only grades K-8, with nearby K-12 districts or high schools.

That change, along with other factors (i.e. budget cuts), has led to a dramatic drop in the number of still-open schools that once operated as stand-alone districts, according to a recent story published in the Omaha World-Herald, in Omaha, Neb. The number has fallen from 206 in 2005 to about 50 this year.

The article presents some interesting perspectives on what that change has meant objectively (schools' operating costs) and subjectively (emotional effect on communities).

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