Rural School and Community Trust Policy Strategy

Last Updated: April 01, 2013

Focus on Rural Mission
We promote:
  • political, professional, policy, and public environments that will enable rural schools to survive and thrive
  • a powerful and sustainable rural school reform movement that actively engages and involves families, communities and the public, as well as education professionals.
Our Approach to Rural Education Organizing
The Rural School-Community Relationship is Essential to the Self-Development of People and Places
Our work is rooted in the belief that the future of rural schools and communities is inextricably connected, that strengthening one is essential to strengthening the other. We operate from two premises:
Communities provide a crucial context for learning that supports educational excellence in public schools. When student work focuses on meeting real needs and has consequences for the whole community, the community becomes a laboratory for learning.
  1. Schools are essential to the development of healthy communities that support successful individuals, strong families, and good government.
  2. Schools and communities helping each other get better together are engaged in self-development of people and places.

The Community Mandate to Educate
All state constitutions provide for an education system and nearly all states (except Hawaii) establish community involvement in public education through local education agencies. We believe that this system creates a community mandate to educate, consisting of: 
  • The right to educate children in good schools close to home, in a place and context with which they are familiar.
  • The responsibility to educate all children well, for life beyond the community as well as in it, according to rigorous academic standards.

The Capacity to Educate
To fulfill this mandate, rural communities must have the capacity to educate their children, including: 
  • The civic and professional skills needed to:
    • Run good community schools that provide an education that meets both state and local standards of academic excellence, reaching all children.
    • Effectively advocate for public policies that nurture good schools.
  • The fiscal resources to build and maintain schools, provide highly qualified teachers, support a curriculum that meets or exceeds rigorous state standards.
It is our goal to help rural communities fulfill this mandate. Our model for doing so is an “asset” based model of rural education. The asset based model recognizes that rural people value education and with adequate resources and governance support, can run good schools close to home for their children. This model views the purpose of education as building on the strengths of rural people to break the cycles of poverty while preparing children for life in the community or beyond. Education for self-reliance is a self-development model.
Program Objectives
The Public Policy Program has four objectives: (1) to articulate education policy issues from a rural community perspective; (2) to legitimize that perspective in national and state policy deliberation; (3) to inform and develop a rural community constituency for education policy reform; (4) to organize and engage that constituency in public policy deliberation.
Principles and Positions
Our work is strictly non-partisan, but we do stand for something and you don’t have to wonder what it is. We believe that public policy should seek to achieve or avoid certain conditions in public education. (Click here to see “Achieve/Avoid Matrix).
This statement reflects our understanding of the Trust’s mission and is intentionally general enough to invite a wide range of interpretations and policy strategies. It is not a litmus test. They give a common sense of purpose to our work and provide a framework for action.

Contact the Rural Trust:

Robert Mahaffey
Director, Communications and Marketing
The Rural School and Community Trust
4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 100 
Washington, D.C. 20008

Tel: (202) 822-3919 x117
Fax: (202) 872-4050


Related Categories: Policy Services

Related Tags: RT Policy Department