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Ed. Sec. Duncan Discusses Challenges, Successes of Rural Schools

Some rural districts are solving some of their challenges through partnerships and other innovative approaches, according to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Duncan spoke Monday to nearly 400 teachers at the Rural Education National Forum in Ohio and highlighted the many challenges facing rural schools, such as poverty, teacher turnover, and a lack of technology. He also touched on several solutions, according to an article in The Columbus Dispatch. 

In Ohio, more than 27 percent of students are enrolled in rural schools, and nearly 32 percent of all schools are rural. A recent report by the Children's Defense Fund in Ohio found that the poverty rate in rural, non-Appalachian parts of the state grew by 92 percent between 2002 and 2012, compared to the statewide average of 75 percent. Children in the rural parts of the state have more health ailments than their urban peers and are more likely to experience food insecurity and lack access to health care.

"Those challenges are real and not one you can solve overnight," Duncan said.

One promising solution Duncan highlighted was the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative, a group of 21 rural districts that share resources, develop solutions to common problems, and implement programs across schools to expand opportunities for students. Last year, the collaborative won $15 million in a statewide grant competition to help teachers in the region earn credentials to teach college-level courses in high schools and upgrade Internet and technology in the districts. Duncan also applauded schools that have launched partnerships with local businesses and colleges to provide students with more college and career opportunities. 

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