Rachel's Notes: June 5, 2008

Last Updated: June 05, 2008

June 5, 2008 1. Education Sector often has interesting information, however, almost never regarding rural issues. And, they have a gossipy blog.

The following is a link to "School Funding: The Tragic Flaw" that raises in bold relief some of the school finance issues of great concern to rural places. It outlines inequities between states in Title I funding, something we highlighted in our Title I webinar. It also has a clear description of the comparability problem—using average teacher salaries in a district to do school allocations. As you know, this penalizes greatly the poorest schools. Because we do a lot of school finance work and know how devilishly difficult it is to make it interesting, we appreciate a clear, well-written article.


2. The Journal of Rural Education Research has a new article authored by Aimee and Craig Howley, Larry Burgess, and Drew Puscateri (Ohio University) regarding rural schooling in Ohio focused on a district with 40% Amish children. Check it out at www.jrre.psu.edu. Very interesting ideas on equity in a rural place.

3. The Southern Education Foundation released a report showing that a majority of students in WV, VA, KY, TN, AR, LA, MS, AL,GA, FL, and SC are low-income. In addition, TX, NM, CA and OR also have majorities. Copies are available for free at www.southerneducation.org.

4. Next Generation Press, a project of What Kids Can Do has a new book out written by students about mentors in their lives. It is entitled Pass It On and chronicles 63 mentors including several chapters outlining way to replicate this effort The mentors are school bus drivers, preachers, teachers, doctors. It is a terrific way to teach interviewing and writing skills, and build connections to community at the same time.

5. You will soon see on our website stories and pictures from the Rural Education Working Group Meeting held May 16-18, 2008 at Tuskegee Institute. This is the seventh annual gathering and it is always inspiring. There are dozens of rich stories from local people helping children learn and advocating for good policies for rural schools. And, the location this year was beautiful and inspiring.

The Carver Museum on campus tells the story of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver and others who by talent and sheer force of will created a great institution of higher education in a hostile world. As a former Director of the Extension Service in West Virginia, I was particularly impressed with the exhibits of the farmer education programs and the van that went around conducting workshops in the fields. Extension agents still do similar types of programs today.

Alabama farmers, Tuskegee, and the Nation have made a long, too slow journey from the days of Jim Crow to a day when an African-American man can be the candidate of his party for President of the United States. Whatever your politics, it is an occasion to celebrate.

As always, keep in contact.

Rachel Tompkins