Friday, February 15, 2019

Eastern Ky. schools say they could be catalyst for economic, community development in region, examples for U.S.

A group of school superintendents from Eastern Kentucky is asking leaders of their state to take action to help disadvantaged rural students and look for ways to "make education the catalyst for community and economic development" in the region, hit hard by the loss of two-thirds of its jobs in coal mining in the last decade.

The superintendents' call to action is in a paper, "Public Education in Rural Eastern Kentucky: A Region’s Way Forward," released at the state Capitol this week by the 22 school districts in the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative. It notes many "innovative and successful practices" in their region that could "be replicated statewide and in other parts of rural America."

"We believe our region has reached a tipping point that has been decades in the making. Concerted action must be taken to reverse negative trends and build a healthy sustainable future," the report says. "We believe untapped physical, fiscal and human resources exist and can be elements of a strategic effort to rapidly and dramatically shift the region’s trajectory."

The paper calls for several state policy changes, mainly for funding; a wide array of steps to create collaborations between schools, local governments and community partners; development of an "education equity assessment" that would also "explore changes in policy and legislation to ensure academic equity for all students."

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