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Rural Ed. News Round-Up: NCLB Waivers, Broadband, Teach for America

Happy Friday! Here are three recent rural education stories worth checking out.

Rural States in Hunt for NCLB Waivers
EdWeek published a good story earlier this week about the seven states most recently applying for federal waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act.

All seven—Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and West Virginia—represent a large portion of rural America. The story describes why this federal program appeals to these rural strongholds and the common approaches and differences in their applications.

West Virginia Using Innovative Broadband Program to Connect Students
We've been keeping a close eye on the Reconnecting McDowell partnership, the effort to transform poor, rural McDowell County schools in West Virginia. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph in Bluefield, W. Va., reported that by the end of the month, every school in McDowell County will have broadband connections.

That apparently is happening as a result of a $126 million grant the state got from the National Telecommunications & Information Administration to establish the West Virginia Virtual Schools Program, according to the story. Access is a huge issue for students in remote and rural communities, and technology is one way of addressing the problem.

Teach for America Starting Second Year in Rural Appalachia
Teach for America has been around for more than two decades, but has only within the last year come to one of the nation's most troubled rural communities—Appalachia.

Teach for America aims to take ambitious college graduates, give them a crash course in teaching, and put them in the country's neediest classrooms. This story posted on the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community blog describes how the 36 teachers in 11 Eastern Kentucky schools are faring. One of the more interesting parts of the article was teachers' perception of why local students did so poorly. Their answer? "Low expectations." A university professor backed up that theory.

"Up until about 1960, the point of the high-school teacher in Eastern Kentucky was to keep kids in the area, to prepare them for local jobs," said University of Kentucky education and sociology Professor Alan DeYoung, in the article. "Now, it's the opposite - it's to equip kids to leave for college." Schools have been slow to catch up, he said.

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