In California and the U.S., rural youth make up about a fifth of all students and face disproportionate poverty, isolation, and inequalities that are exacerbated "by the lack of attention" to their unique needs, according to the National School Boards Association Center for Public Education.
The network was the brainchild of Susan Hukkanen, a former assistant superintendent in Northern California's Butte County. She was leading a team to bring a "multi-tiered system of support" to all rural schools in the state, to help all students with academic, social and emotional needs. "In her conversations with colleagues in other rural districts, common concerns kept popping up: They felt overlooked, under-resourced, overwhelmed by the needs of their students and families and entirely absent from statewide policy conversations," Romney reports.
CREN tries to address those problems with a searchable online resource bank with more information and ideas on common issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, parent engagement, staff recruitment, dealing with childhood trauma, and more.