NREA Executive Director Allen Pratt today joined Vice President Kamala Harris and leaders from around the country to launch the COVID-19 Community Corps. NREA is a founding member of the initiative, which seeks to increase vaccine confidence.
For more information please click read more.
Policy Special: President Biden’s Infrastructure Plan by Leif Saveraid, Sustainability Policy Intern, Luther College, Washington, D.C.
Most weeks I write about an environmental problem or solution that involves rural schools. However, this week I’ll look at the major infrastructure plan proposed by President Biden, and what school infrastructure challenges it seeks to address. A major infrastructure bill is considered long overdue in the U.S., with broad public support
for one. However, passing one has proven politically difficult, and so we should keep in mind that even if it passes some changes are likely. That said, it is worth discussing its proposed and desperately needed investments in our school system.
|NREA Welcomes Presence Learning as a Sponsor for 2021-2022|
We are pleased to welcome our newest Sponsor, PresenceLearning! PresenceLearning is the leading provider of live online special education-related services including speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral and mental health services, and psychoeducational assessments. To learn how they are addressing the unique needs of rural schools, read Rural America in Focus
AUSTIN, Texas -- The rural-versus-urban broadband divide became a more urgent problem for Texas and many other parts of the U.S. when COVID-19 forced schools to close.
The Texas community of Bastrop is just a 30-minute drive from Austin, but its rural character meant when the pandemic hit, the lack of internet connectivity kept the communities worlds apart.
Kathy D'Amico, a teacher who coordinates the Response to Intervention efforts in the Bastrop Independent School District, said adopting remote learning was no easy feat.
"I'm in the system," D'Amico explained. "I know the system backwards and forwards. I know what to do, I know what they need to do, and it was still a huge challenge."
D'Amico believes the lack of consistent technology in many rural parts of Texas caused frustration for students and parents, and could have resulted in teachers grading on privilege rather than ability, because not all children have had access to the same tools or technology.
Congratulations to NRCSA's 2020 & 2021 Outstanding Personnel Award Winners
Outstanding Classified Staff Member
Mary Teten, Johnson County Central
Outstanding Elementary Teacher
Laurie Hothem Smith, Sumner-Eddyville-Miller
Outstanding Secondary Teacher
Becky Buening, Crofton
Gary Fisher Outstanding Music Teacher 2020
Laureen Powell, Cross County
Gary Fisher Outstanding Music Teacher 2021
Heather Stahr, McCool Junction
Outstanding ESU Staff Member
Jeff McQuiston, ESU 17
Outstanding Board Member
Dan Wesely, North Bend Central
Tammy Carlson, Fullerton
Grant Norgaard, McCook
Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Kansas State University College of Education’s Rural Education Center newsletter, Rural Crossroads: Connections.
It’s a name we chose carefully because we believe rural life is at a vital crossroad, with opportunities for achieving great things for our students and for the future of our communities. It’s also important for us to realize these roads also provide a vital link to others along the same journey. We believe these connections can be a powerful thing, and we are excited to be part of this effort.
We’ve designed this newsletter for a variety of reasons, but with one key focus—providing an outlet for information regarding all things rural, especially education.
When we became the leaders of the Rural Education Center (REC) at KSU’s College of Education, we wanted to not only share developments regarding rural education, but also provide an opportunity for the voices of rural educators to share their successes, struggles, and observations inside and outside of the classroom. We want to discuss trends, events, and professional development activities. But we also want to share what makes rural life—and teaching in the rural schools—so unique and (mostly) endearing.
|Nation Safe School Reopening Summit|
On March 24, the Department hosted the National Safe School Reopening Summit
, gathering key education stakeholders from across the country to discuss best practices on reopening schools quickly and safely. The program featured remarks from President Biden, Vice President Harris, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary Cardona, and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Welensky. It also featured panels of students, educators, and school district leaders
engaged in discussion about their strategies for reopening and the impact the pandemic has had on their in-person instruction. The summit concluded with the Secretary announcing the Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative with the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. He also announced a nationwide tour of schools to highlight needs for reopening and begin the process of reimaging education (readout
The summit was one in a series of steps
the Department is taking to provide support and resources to K-12 schools as they work to reopen and equitably address the academic, social, and emotional needs of students most impacted by the pandemic.
On the same day, the Department announced
the release of two-thirds of the American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds
to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to support their efforts to get students back in the classroom safely for in-person learning, keep schools open once students are back, and address the critical needs of all students. The agency is encouraging states to develop and implement plans to immediately utilize this funding to get more schools opened this spring and work to close the gaps in equity that the pandemic has exacerbated. The remaining one-third of ARP ESSER funding will be released after states submit their reopening plans (Department letter to Chief State School Officers
and allocation table
This week, the Department and the Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety at WestEd hosted a virtual discussion on “Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 through Summer Learning and Enrichment
.” The webinar elevated the evidence-based components of high-quality summer and enrichment programming, described how ARP funds can be used to support their design and implementation, and detailed how these opportunities may be available this summer and beyond by building capacity, including the role of philanthropy and community-based partners.
Also this week, the Department hosted the first in its “Lessons from the Field” webinar series, running bi-weekly through June and focusing on key topics across early childhood, K-12 education, and postsecondary education: safe and healthy environments; providing supports for students; and teacher, faculty, and staff well-being, professional development, and supports. This initial webinar, “Safely Reopening and Sustaining In-Person Instruction
,” provided a brief overview of how to implement mitigation strategies and featured a panel of practitioners from several districts sharing lessons learned on preparing for and returning to in-person learning and information on how they overcame complications. (Note: A reminder that the agency is seeking information
submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
for its Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse