July 2010 Archives

Stephen Sawchuk, over at the Teacher Beat blog, wrote about a new study that has obvious implications for rural schools. The study, he explains, found Teach For America teachers who are assigned to teach more than one grade, subject, or out-of-field are more likely to leave their schools—or the profession altogether. The scholars' conclusion? If schools want to retain new teachers, don't assign them to teach multiple grades or multiple subjects or subjects in which they have little or no formal preparation. Teach for America reaches deep into the nation's rural school districts, particularly in the Mississippi Delta. So the...


Jerry Johnson of the Rural School and Community Trust gives his take on the 19 finalists vying for a cut of the $3.4 billion left in Race to the Top.


Rural schools need reforms in federal education policy that provide support, not ultimatums, rural educators told a U.S. Senate committee meeting in Wyoming.


Dozens of Congress members are urging the president to re-up 10-year-old legislation that sends millions of dollars to rural schools to replace federal timber revenue.


Arne Duncan's National Learning Registry is a promising idea, but rural schools need the hardware, software, and know-how to use it to their full advantage.


Most heavily rural states have language and math guidelines inferior to proposed common academic-core standards, according to a report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.


Expect some tension around the issue of federal funding for technology when educators and administrators from rural school districts and top Obama education officials converge for a summit on using technology in rural schools.


Students in rural districts readily adapt to the life changes imposed by school consolidation while teachers struggle with new relationships, researchers studying some Arkansas school districts found.


For an example of how federal education policies can play out at cross-purposes in schools of small scale, read Mary Ann Zehr's story about how provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act are hurdles to native-language immersion schools in rural states. She writes that three founders of such schools—found primarily in small, rural locales—say NCLB conflicts with another federal law, the Native American Languages Act of 1990. Schools serving Native American students are among the nation's smallest and most geographically isolated. Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma, respectively, have the highest numbers of Native American students,...


Rural schools are being left out of pivotal policy changes being tried out in the nation's education system, say some rural advocates, and that goes for reform experiments bankrolled with private dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "The [Gates] Foundation funded work around smaller schools in mostly urban places—a sort of ironic phenomenon, given the consolidation of rural schools. And they funded some early-college initiatives in places like rural Appalachian Ohio," said Caitlin Howley, senior manager, education and research, for ICF International in Charleston, W.Va., an educational research firm. "But I don't think rural is part of what...


Bits, pieces and links: Good marks for RLIS program The U.S. Department of Education's final report on the Rural and Low-Income Schools program gave it good marks, saying rural schools that got money spent it to upgrade their computers, purchase educational software and technology, to provide professional development and to buy instructional materials, Read the news release here. Read the report itself here. Technology Confab Rural school administrators are expected in Washington, D.C., July 21 for the National Rural Education Technology Summit. Secretary Duncan and Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution G. Wayne Clough will be on hand as ...


The facts are now out on school consolidation in rural Mississippi. On Tuesday, local advocacy group Southern Echo posted on its web site a table and a map showing data used to recommend consolidation of 18 rural, high-poverty school districts in the state. The state commission studying consolidation and the consultant that prepared the report had kept that information secret, but Southern Echo and the non-profit MS Delta Catalyst Roundtable used the state's open records law to get the data from the state Department of Public Instruction. That disclosure may provide additional fuel for groups such as Southern Echo that ...


A rural education non-profit frustrated with the i3 grant process says it will investigate how small and rural school districts fare under the Obama administration's policy of federal competitive grants. The Rural Schools and Community Trust reported in Rural Policy Matters that it would look at the process and outcome of the current Investing in Innovation (i3) and Race to the Top competitions. Here's a snippet: "We want to know not only whether competitive grants are reaching high-poverty and other rural areas, but to the extent they are not, why not. Competitive grants are important to (the Obama) administration, but ...


Does forcing small rural school districts to consolidate create a national emergency? That's the argument being made in a creative federal lawsuit filed in Arkansas claiming the state's mandated closing of rural schools threatens the country's security and food supply. Here's an excerpt from the lawsuit, filed by Friends of the Weiner School District: "The current statutory scheme in Arkansas closing schools in agricultural districts of the state has the potential to have a catastrophic effect on the national commerce," the suit said. The attorney representing the group explained it this way in an accompanying court filing: "Farmers, and those ...


Are agricultural education and the 82-year-old Future Farmers of America organization throwbacks to the past, even in rural schools? No, Dr. Larry Case, retiring national FFA advisor, told the Rural Education blog. Read in this recent post how record numbers of students are participating in the organization. That made me wonder why, so I asked both a teacher and a recent high school graduate. April Lamm, 18, heads to N.C. State University to study agricultural education in August. Then, she'll return home to rural Wilson County, N.C., to teach agriculture for at least four years. The local scholarship ...


Larry Case is what you'd expect as the nation's top agricultural education official. He's a Missouri farm boy who, by his own admission, is a talker. Yet he has no trouble getting to the point about what agricultural education and the National FFA Organization must do to draw students in a changing world. "If you don't have community support and rigorous education today, you are out of business," he said. Case, 67, will step down as national FFA advisor in January. He has led that iconic rural education organization since 1984, guiding it through an era when fundamental shifts in ...


A new non-profit that focuses on small, rural school districts in the Missouri Ozarks region will be on show when national advocates for rural education meet July 15 in Washington, D.C. Gary Funk, director of the Rural Schools Partnership, will talk about the work it's doing to strengthen schools at the summer meeting of Organizations Concerned About Rural Education, a coalition of more than two dozen education, farm, rural, technology and utility organizations. The Rural Schools Partnership launched in 2010 after a year-long study by the Community Foundation for the Ozarks (of which Funk served as president and CEO ...


Rural school districts in five central U.S. states—particularly districts with high numbers of Native Americans—have "extremely high student mobility rates," a concern that can hinder schools' progress, a new report says. The study by the Institute of Education Sciences suggests the reasons behind that high mobility need further research to better identify ways for rural schools to cope with high rates of student movement. The IES examined the rates of students changing schools during a school year in Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming. Districts with extremely high mobility, the study concluded, had higher shares of...


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