NREA Celebrates Pride Month
The LGBTQ community in the United States has celebrated Pride Month in June for about half a century, most notably following the Stonewall Uprising in 1969. New York City and other major urban centers having annual Pride marches beginning in the early 1970s.
In rural communities, LGBTQ awareness increased for many following the murder of University Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in October 1998.
Six years ago this June, the US Supreme Court extended the right of marriage to same-sex couples.
Just last week, Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out
For these reasons and more, and to honor the LGBTQ members of NREA and the LGBTQ students they work with, we’re proud to celebrate Pride Month. If you’re interested in learning more, USA Today published this article
earlier in June with a deeper background.
It's OFFICIAL…Registration for the 2021 National Forum to Advance Rural Education is now OPEN! We’re excited to partner with the Rural Schools Collaborative to host a hybrid event this year! Join us in person in Indianapolis or online. Learn more and register! https://www.nrea.net/2021-Convention-Research-Symposium
Dr. Jared Bigham offers a four-part series for Ahead of the Heard that amplifies issues facing rural school districts, students, and communities. He will highlight key challenges, explore innovative partnerships, and dispel rural myths along the way.
When asked to write this series of guest blogs, I was excited to expose myths and realities that too often rigidly fix rural communities in people’s minds in stereotypical and counterproductive ways. Truth is, rural school districts — which make up one-third of all public schools in the U.S.
— are hotbeds of innovation.
I’m a fourth-generation Tennessean and have served in a variety of roles in rural education my whole life, from a teacher to a principal to a policy advocate and then some. Too often, I find that when people do the math on rural communities, they falsely equate rural with being behind.
For the past decade, the issue of high-speed connectivity has gained exponential importance but still resides at the edges of most organization strategic plans or at the top of the want list vs. the need list. The pandemic has laid bare inequities that persist with broadband access in small and remote towns across the country, sparking a renewed sense of urgency to address the digital divide.
Rural America is just now coming out of an infrastructure overhaul that focused primarily on getting schools high-speed connections to meet the minimum requirements for online state assessments. A great deal of money and planning has gone into connecting geographically remote and/or financially challenged rural schools for end-of-year testing purposes, with the ancillary benefit of increasing the capacity for learning experiences for students the entire school year. However, even with a monumental push to get rural schools connected, 12 million students
across the country were unable to complete schoolwork because they lacked home internet access — the year before
Most people’s perception of what constitutes “rural” is based largely on their own geographic location and experiences. If asked what rural education looks like, you’ll often get answers ranging from “Hoosiers” to “Friday Night Lights” to “Remember the Titans”. These are geography- or popular culture-oriented responses, but perceptions of place tend to frame perceptions of people and, more specifically, stereotypes of people.
do (sometimes unfairly) impact much of our thinking. This certainly holds true for many people’s perceived stereotypical “rural student.” By and large, in my experience, people tend to think of rural students as low-income, white kids. So it may come as a surprise to learn that approximately one-quarter of rural students
are students of color. As of 2017
, the rural population breakdown for people of color is 9% Hispanic, 8% Black, 2% American Indian, and 2% identifying as non-white Other. And in the South, 80% of rural African Americans
in the U.S. live in the Black Belt, which comprises 623 counties across 11 Southern states
: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
My grandfather used to say, “You’ll sit a long time with your mouth wide open before a fried chicken flies in.” So too goes the work of recruiting and retaining rural teachers
across our country, as most young or new teachers increasingly pursue jobs in urban and suburban areas. Many rural schools and districts spent considerable resources and time on this issue before
the nationwide teacher shortage
began in 2009; it’s a challenge that continues to grow with each passing school year. Whether it’s the competition of pay scales, in-vogue fusion restaurants, craft breweries, or strip malls offered in urban or suburban areas, rural districts have started relying on grow-your-own
models to meet talent needs.
To be clear, there’s a difference between hiring local and hiring local intentionally
through grow-your-own talent strategies
. Hiring local means you give Johnny a job because he grew up in the community, left and earned a teaching certification, and now wants to move back home to work. This scenario is OK if Johnny is, or has the potential to be, a good educator. But the scenario also represents the double-edged sword of rural human capital plans that hire based on tribalism vs. talent acquisition. The problem arises if Johnny is only a mediocre educator because in most cases he’ll be in the classroom until he’s ready to retire…or becomes the principal. Unfortunately, this is a common practice in rural schools, whether it’s in response to a sense of loyalty to community members or to the pressing need to fill positions
|Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) Hosts Small School Symposium July 15-16, 2021|
The Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) is hosting “Small School Symposium: Your Voice in DC” July 15-16, 2021 to provide selected school districts with the opportunity to network and discuss challenges and creative solutions specific to districts of their size. The event includes keynotes, interactive workshops, and a meeting with legislative staff, as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Education. School districts must apply to attend or be invited by ALAS. The event takes place in-person in Washington D.C. To apply, visithttps://www.alasedu.org/event/small-school-symposium/
|Rural Infrastructure & Broadband|
With nearly 100,000 schools across the country on about 2 million acres of land, one in every six Americans in a typical year relies on our school buildings and grounds for learning, work, and wellbeing.
As debates about America’s infrastructure continue, Congress and the Biden administration must include our schools in this critical investment
not only because of their scale, use, and condition, but also because this investment can benefit our economy, build community resilience, and improve the environmental and fiscal sustainability of our schools.
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