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Rural Advocacy Group Lays Out its Work as 2013-14 School Year Opens

One of the country's biggest and most active rural education advocacy groups wants to make sure its constituents understand its work, and it recently published a piece to do that.

The Rural School and Community Trust detailed its mission and major projects in its September newsletter, Rural Policy Matters. None of these appear to be new, but it was a good refresher on the different ways the group is trying to accomplish its mission of helping rural schools and communities grow better together.

The group has four primary strategies: research, policy, and advocacy; place-based education as a theory of rural school and community change; rural leadership; and rural capacity building. And the newsletter describes each fully.

On the issue of research and policy, the group wants to transform the national agenda to reflect the realities of small, isolated,and under-resourced rural and small town schools.

"With limited fiscal and human resources, rural schools and communities are at a distinct disadvantage in the effort to validate the reform models that best suit their specific needs," according to the Rural Trust. "The Rural Trust advocates for policies and funding to translate effective models into programmatic approaches available to rural schools."

And on the issue of rural capacity building, the group is committed to helping rural schools and communities win grants that increasingly are available only on a competitive basis. Those competitions are challenging for rural schools because: they typically have smaller, less-specialized staffs that are inexperienced in writing major grants and lack access to technical assistance and collaborative supports; and because most rural communities can't meet matching requirements because of limited resources.

"As a result, rural schools win relatively few competitive grants, which may ultimately exacerbate the equity issue many grants are intended to address," according to the trust.

The group encouraged anyone interested in getting involved to connect with it. Other issues explored in this Rural Policy Matters issue include some education policy changes in North Carolina, as well as funding cuts affecting rural states.

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