NREA Weekly Updates September 25th, 2020

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NREA Resources COVID-19
NREA "The Rural Voice" Podcast Series
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Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience: 21st Century Education in Rural America
Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience: 21st Century Education in Rural America
Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience: 21st Century Education in Rural America
Battelle for Kids and the National Rural Education Association (NREA) are thrilled to once again host The National Forum to Advance Rural Education (NFARE) on November 12-13.
This year the National Forum to Advance Rural Education will be a virtual event. As in years past, this virtual experience will bring together a diverse community of national experts, K–12 and higher education practitioners, researchers, and policymakers to share innovative approaches to essential rural education challenges and ensure 21st century learning is a reality for all rural students.
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50 States in 50 Weeks:
For the latest updates on the I Am A Rural Teacher campaign and Cultivating Community, we encourage you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Sustainability Saturday: Going Solar in Maine
Sustainability Saturday: Going Solar in Maine
Mount Desert Island High School Sustainability Initiatives
Bar Harbor, Maine
Pop: 5,235

The students, faculty, and administration at Mount Desert Island High School are serious about sustainability. Mount Desert Island High School was the first high school in Maine to go completely solar-powered in the fall of 2019 with the installation of the over 1,400 solar panels on the roof of their building. The school has also implemented a rigorous curriculum focusing on issues surrounding the environment and climate change, with over 50% of students taking at least one course which has a focus on the climate, human impacts on the environment, or designing climate solutions and the requirement that all incoming freshman will graduate having had to consider the environmental issues facing the planet. Mount Desert Island High School was named as a Green Ribbon School by the US Department of Education in recognition of these achievements.
Rural Educator Weekly Spotlight:
Vol 41 No 2 (2020) of the Rural Educator
Vol 41 No 2 (2020) of the Rural Educator
Two children work in the woods behind Milbridge Elementary School in Milbridge, Maine to build a shelter and outdoor classroom. Milbridge Elementary School partners with the organization Transforming Rural Experiences in Education (TREE) to provide trauma-informed outdoor learning experiences to students in rural Maine. Photo Credit: Donald Parker

Check out the current issue:
"Cultivating Community" is a new, monthly project highlighting how school communities enhance student experiences.
Throughout the last year, the I Am A Rural Teacher national advocacy campaign has shared the perspectives of teachers from across rural America. As more teachers have shared their stories, many have pointed out the importance of their small towns and country places in the sustainability of vibrant rural schools.
Aiming to further highlight the local policies and projects that connect rural educators to their communities, IAART is pleased to announce the launch of Cultivating Community. In this monthly spotlight feature, teachers can nominate their community to showcase the local policies, projects, and programs which strengthen the bonds between school and community.
Classroom teachers are invited to submit either a one-minute video OR a short written submission on a specific local school or community policy that has strengthened a rural school district and its students. Each month Cultivating Community will select one nomination to highlight via the social media of theI Am A Rural Teacher Campaign, National Rural Education Association, and Rural Schools Collaborative.
Teachers whose nominations are selected will receive a $250 classroom grant to further support their work of cultivating community, and they will be recognized in the feature on their rural school community.
The first feature will appear in October 2020, with new stories being shared on a monthly basis thereafter.
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Legislative Updates from CEF
House passes revised CR through December 11; vote pending in the Senate
On Tuesday night, the House overwhelmingly passed a revised continuing resolution (CEF) (H.R. 8337) that extends government funding through December 11 because current funding expires at the end of this fiscal year on September 30. The Senate could vote on the bill as soon as today, but it’s possible that process could drag out until Wednesday’s deadline if Senators want to offer amendments or if Democrats protest the process due to their unhappiness over Republicans’ plans to consider a Supreme Court nomination before the inauguration in January. Republicans had objected to the original House CR filed on Monday because it did not contain extra relief for farmers; the revised version includes that agricultural relief as well as nearly $8 billion to expand the pandemic EBT program that provides nutrition funding for families with children who would have received reduced-price meals at schools. Other than this provision, appropriations for education-related programs are frozen at fiscal year (FY) 2020 levels through December 11. There is a section-by-section summary here.

What’s next for FY 2021 appropriations? – Assuming this CR is signed into law, government funding will continue until Congress reconvenes in a lame-duck session after the election. What happens then depends on whether Senate and White House control will shift to Democrats next year. If so, on the one hand Republicans will want to get the best deal for their priorities this fall, and will push to finish full-year funding bills – like in one or two omnibus appropriations packages. For the Senate, which has not yet produced a single FY 2021 appropriations bill, that means the bills would not go through the Appropriations Committee markup process, although it’s possible that Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee chair Roy Blunt (R-MO) would produce his draft bill and report anyway. Under this scenario, regular (i.e., non-emergency, pandemic-relief) education funding isn’t likely to get much more than the modest 1.7 percent increase provided in the House-passed bill (see CEF’s funding table for program levels). However, if full control switches to Democrats as a result of the election, Democrats could push to pass another CR until February or March, and leave it up to a new Congress and President to finalize FY 2021 funding bills with revised Subcommittee allocations. The Budget Control Act’s statutory spending caps on defense and non-defense discretionary spending for FY 2021 remain in place (the caps essentially freeze both categories of funding at the FY 2020 levels), so to provide a significant overall boost Congress would need to vote to raise the caps (which is an unlikely fight to pick at the beginning of a new Congress and Administration) or provide extra money outside the caps, either by designating the funding as emergency funding, by allowing a new cap adjustment, or through some other budgetarily creative way.

Recent reports by CEF members – As always, CEF members are doing interesting work. Some recent reports of interest:
Rural Broadband
Closing California's Digital Divide: One Rural Teacher’s Fight to Get Her Students Connected
Closing California's Digital Divide: One Rural Teacher’s Fight to Get Her Students Connected
Third grade teacher Alena Anberg cruised down Highway 99 in her Ford F-150, past acres of almond orchards that split the terrain just outside her hometown of Arbuckle in Colusa County. She grew up in this town of 3,000 and knows the back roads well, which helped as she made several stops to deliver iPads, laptops and old smart phones with SIM cards installed to turn them into Wi-Fi hot spots.
In the days shortly after the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools, this was Anberg’s daily routine: helping students connect to their teachers online, by any means necessary.
Waiting outside his trailer home for the delivery was third grader Antonio Campos and his mom. He smiled shyly when Anberg walked up. The family had Wi-Fi thanks to the hot spot Anberg set them up with earlier, but they didn't know how to use the Chromebook. Anberg had returned to help.
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Hotspots no silver bullet for rural remote learning
Hotspots no silver bullet for rural remote learning
Back in April, as schools across the country shifted to online instruction to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Scott Muri saw firsthand just how damaging lack of internet access can be for students and families.
A team of fifth grade teachers at an elementary school invited Muri, the superintendent of Ector County Independent School District in West Texas, to participate in an online scavenger hunt they had designed for students. Muri logged into the session and immediately noticed that even though there were five fifth-grade classrooms, only 27 students were in the virtual room. After the scavenger hunt, Muri asked the teachers why the rest of their students were missing. Their response shocked him.
“They said these are the only students that have access to the internet from their homes,” Muri said. “So, the majority of their kids — almost a hundred students —missed out on this opportunity to engage with their teachers, because they simply didn’t have the tools.”
Across the country, 9.7 million students don’t have reliable internet connectivity in their homes, according to Digital Bridge K-12, an initiative from EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit. The initiative addresses home connectivity inequalities, more commonly referred to as “the homework gap.” During the pandemic, many districts have addressed this gap by handing out personal hotspot devices (similar to routers) or smartphones, or provided mobile Wi-Fi on school buses to kids lacking internet. Personal hotspots, which allow students to connect a laptop or tablet with a cellular data connection, have been the most popular solution because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to use.
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Sharing Information From Our Partners and Sponsors:
WIN Learning is proud to partner with the National Rural Education Association (NREA) to promote career readiness for ALL. Through an exclusive partnership, all NREA member districts now have access to a Career Exploration and Planning mobile app from WIN Learning at no cost.
Our partnership is focused on preparing students in rural communities for the real world with the skills and opportunities for high-demand career pathways. Together, our efforts will prepare learners with work-based learning experiences and the essential skills that future employers value and seek.
Visit to learn how your district can access and implement this resource.
Sign-up to gain free access for your school district.
VHS Learning
VHS Learning
Online Teaching Best Practices
To access our five Online Teaching Best Practices guidelines:
  • Effective Feedback in the Online Classroom
  • Positive Teacher Presence in the Online Classroom
  • Student Engagement in the Online Classroom
  • Setting and Using a Positive Tone
  • Engaging and Informative Homepage
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TFA Appalachia Division, Appalachian College Initiatives
  • TEAM: Appalachia
  • REPORTS TO: Executive Director
  • LOCATION: Appalachia Region (Eastern Kentucky)
  • In our 10th year as a high impact nonprofit across four Central Appalachian states, your role represents the degree to which our team is innovating, growing, and contributing to the broader regional movement for educational equity. As a model approach, you will work in concert with two other regional, high impact nonprofit organizations to lead a project with potential to transform the lives of students and communities for generations. Supporting a cadre of 17 college coaches from hire through a two year commitment, you will serve as the conductor of a complex project across 8 Appalachian KY counties, in which college coaches support a cohort of 25 high school students to and through the college acceptance process. As a native Appalachian with a vision for equity and proven experience leading on complex teams and structures, you will constantly be asking yourself, “what do my college coaches need to empower students with strategies, skills and mindsets for long-term success?”
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NREA State Affiliates
NREA Virtual Conference Info
NREA Sponsors & Partners
The Rural Educator
Rural Ed. Instructional Support
NREA Foundation & Research Awards Announcements


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