Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Iowa task force looks at program that puts rural high-school students into community colleges

Rural school superintendents in Iowa worry that their students won't be able to compete for jobs in the global marketplace without early exposure to technology, and that their rural districts won't be able to attract and keeping tech-savvy teachers, Mike Wiser of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports. Rural districts usually get smaller shares of state dollars because of small enrollments, and smaller revenues from local property taxes because there is less property to tax, so they have less money to pay teachers than urban districts, and they have even less money to pay for special classes, Wiser notes. (Courier photo by Tiffany Rushing: Rural Education Task Force members)

For decades, the answer to this revenue riddle in Iowa, and other rural areas across the country, was school consolidation. There have been 117 school district reorganizations in Iowa since 1965, and they aren't always popular. "Parents worry about students being forced into larger classes or exponentially increasing their travel times," Wiser writes. "Students may have a hard time adjusting to a new school in a different town, and people in the towns that lose their schools also lose some of their identity."

Two Republican state House members joined with a Democratic colleague to organize a Rural Education Task Force that includes superintendents, school administrators and teachers from rural districts. The task force is looking at the Cedar Valley West program, which brings students from four rural districts to a local community college to take upper-level classes and earn dual high school and college credit for their efforts. (Read more)

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