Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Momentum builds for national rural teaching corps

Last week we reported several regional rural teaching corps could serve as the model for a national program. Now, a leading rural education advocate says momentum for such a program is growing. "The non-profit Rural School and Community Trust has been having exploratory talks with faculty and administrators at seven universities that have an interest in enhancing rural teacher preparation programs and in being part of an invigorated national effort, said Gary Funk, director of the new Ozarks Teacher Corps in Missouri," Mary Schulken of Education Week reports on the Rural Education blog.

Funk, who also serves on the board of the Rural School and Community Trust, told Schulken the Trust would like to hear from other institutions or philanthropic organizations about this effort. "What we need is a movement that serves as a national catalyst for building regional infrastructure that, in turn, supports and drives local action," Funk said. Rural education advocates "see a national rural teacher corps emerging as a coalition of regional efforts, built upon strong working relationships between philanthropic organizations, public schools, and teacher education programs," Schulken writes.

Funk said he doesn't envision federal funding for the program, but the Department of Education could help by spotlighting programs that successfully provide good rural teachers. "The beauty of the Teacher Corps concept is its ability to address rural capital flight by building local philanthropic assets, rural brain drain by proactively recruiting the best and brightest and preparing them to be rural 'activists' and teacher/leaders, and teaching effectiveness by immersing participants in place-based education activities and developing a supportive peer network," Funk told Schulken. Funk said the Trust would ideally like to first focus on the most economically challenged rural regions, including the Mississippi Delta, the Appalachian corridor, the South, southern Texas and New Mexico, and the Great Plains states. (Read more)

No comments: