Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rural superintendents tell education secretary his plans for poor schools may not fit their districts

Rural school superintendents told U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Tuesday that many of his department's plans to turn around poor schools may not work for them. Superintendents from Michigan, Texas, West Virginia, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Arizona, Mississippi and California attended the meeting along with representatives from the American Association of School Administrators.

The "Rural Nine" told Duncan that the Department of Education's four turnaround models for underperforming schools won't work for many rural school districts, Michele McNeil of Education Week reports. The group also said Duncan's preference for awarding federal funding through competitive grants, over formulas, will put rural schools at a disadvantage. "Nearly every state has rural schools, which frequently lack resources, have trouble attracting teachers, and serve students living in areas with high concentrations of poverty," Duncan said in a news release. "At the same time, we know that all children can learn with the appropriate support. We must learn from and replicate the many examples of success in small rural schools."(Read more)

"Coming from Chicago, President Obama and Secretary Duncan understand how to turn around low-performing big-city systems," Tupelo Schools Superintendent Randy Shaver, one of the meeting participants, told Chris Kieffer of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. "I’m encouraged that they understand that they don’t know enough about rural and small-city systems." Shaver said the best way to turn around underperforming schools was to hold administrators, principles and teachers accountable. (Read more)

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