NREA Weekly Updates: September 24th, 2021

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2021 National Forum to Advance Rural Education: 113 Years of Highlighting Rural Education
2021 NREA State Affiliates: 43 States & Counting...
NREA "The Rural Voice" Podcast Series
Become A Member of NREA Join Online
Donors Choose Sponsors NREA National Rural Teacher of the Year! 

The teacher of the year receives a $5,000 DonorsChoose gift card which allows them to support resources for their classroom or even the entire school.

Excited to announce our 2021 National Rural Teacher of the Year, Laurie Smith. She’s a 4th-grade teacher from @semmustangs. Thx for being a champion for rural students. Look forward to celebrating you at the #RuralEdForum!
Giving teachers input on rural school policy
Giving teachers input on rural school policy
The Rural Imperative Initiative aims to give a voice to rural schools across the nation. Missouri State University is partnering in this effort to bring the needs and concerns of rural schools to the attention of state, regional, and national policymakers.
The initiative is a collaborative effort between Rural Schools Collaborative (RSC), National Rural Education Association (NREA), and Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO). The initiative is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Rural Imperative Initiative will help teacher-leaders connect policy to place in five rural regions: Appalachia, Black Belt, Borderlands, Rust Belt, and Northern California.
The College of Education (COE) at Missouri State University is spearheading the rural school initiative program for the Rust Belt region.
“We’ll be working with school partners to identify teachers to participate in this initiative,” COE Interim Dean Barri Tinkler said. “The COE is very excited to be a part of this work to engage teacher’s voices in contributing to policy formation.”
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State-by-State Visualizations of Key Demographic Trends From the 2020 Census
State-by-State Visualizations of Key Demographic Trends From the 2020 Census
As a valued Statistics in Schools partner, I wanted to let you know that the local 2020 Census results are in! Our state profile pages bring you all the key population characteristics of your state and your county on one page. Through interactive maps for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, each page provides a snapshot of change from 2010 to 2020.
Five key areas are highlighted on each state page to show how where you live compares:
  • Total population.
  • Race and ethnicity.
  • Diversity Index.
  • Under-18 and adult population.
  • Housing units and vacancies.
Please share this information so teachers and students can explore the most recent demographic changes in their state and county and see how they compare to those in the nation and in neighboring areas. State profiles are available here.
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NREAC/AASA Voucher Court Case
NREAC/AASA Voucher Court Case
IMPORTANT Voucher Court CaseThis December, the Supreme Court will hear the case Carson v Makin, a case whose issue is ‘whether a state violates the religion clauses or equal protection clause of the United States Constitution by prohibiting students participating in an otherwise generally available student-aid program from choosing to use their aid to attend schools that provide religious, or “sectarian,” instruction.’
  • Background: In Maine, more than half of the state's 260 school districts did not operate their own high schools. The state legislature created a tuition assistance program to pay for students to attend public or private schools inside or outside of the state, in order to ensure that school-age children receive free public education, as provided by the state constitution. According to the program's requirements, approved private schools must be nonsectarian, meaning that it is not related to a religious group or organization.
  • The case: In 2018, three sets of parents filed a complaint in U.S. district court against the state, alleging that the program requirement infringed on their First Amendment rights, including the free exercise of religion. The district court entered judgment in favor of the state. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling.
  • The issue: The case concerns public education funding and religious education, and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue(2020).
  • The questions presented: Does a state violate the Religion Clauses or Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution by prohibiting students participating in an otherwise generally available student-aid program from choosing to use their aid to attend schools that provide religious or “sectarian” instruction?
  • Implications: Even though Maine does not have a real voucher program at all-- are they required to fund religious private schools? And if so, then would the Court say that every State with or without a voucher program is required to provide money/vouchers for private schools otherwise it constitutes discrimination?
Join us for the upcoming 3-D Thursdays for Rural Educators on Thursday, Oct 7th at 7 pm CT to learn how to enhance your role as a STEM educator and leader through paid fellowship opportunities at Federal agencies!
This webinar is suitable for all grades K-12.
Access registration HERE!
COVID-19-associated school closures and related efforts to sustain education and subsidized meal programs, United States, February 18–June 30, 2020
COVID-19-associated school closures and related efforts to sustain education and subsidized meal programs, United States, February 18–June 30, 2020
Pre-emptive school closures are frontline community mitigation measures recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for implementation during severe pandemics. This study describes the spatiotemporal patterns of publicly announced school closures implemented in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and assesses how public K-12 districts adjusted their methods of education delivery and provision of subsidized meals. During February 18–June 30, 2020, we used daily systematic media searches to identify publicly announced COVID-19–related school closures lasting ≥1 day in the United States (US). We also collected statewide school closure policies from state government websites. Data on distance learning and subsidized meal programs were collected from a stratified sample of 600 school districts. The first COVID-19–associated school closure occurred on February 27, 2020, in Washington state. By March 30, 2020, all but one US public school districts were closed, representing the first-ever nearly synchronous nationwide closure of public K-12 schools in the US. Approximately 100,000 public schools were closed for ≥8 weeks because of COVID-19, affecting >50 million K-12 students. Of 600 districts sampled, the vast majority offered distance learning (91.0%) and continued provision of subsidized meal programs (78.8%) during the closures. Despite the sudden and prolonged nature of COVID-19–associated school closures, schools demonstrated flexibility by implementing distance learning and alternate methods to continue subsidized meal programs.
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Rural Educator Weekly Spotlight:
This Old House Bringing Awareness of Rural Issues to Students Through Writing
This Old House Bringing Awareness of Rural Issues to Students Through Writing
Anthony Olson, Manson Northwest Webster CSD
In this essay, I explain how I switched the lens of my sophomore research unit to one that focuses on rural issues. This essay follows the unit from beginning to end. I explain what I do to raise awareness through the use of daily articles along with providing models for their own research. The essay then details the writing portion and how it has changed over time. The essay ends with a reflection of my work and choices.
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Rural Broadband
Telehealth Awareness Week
Telehealth Awareness Week
Connect Americans Now (CAN) executive director Richard T. Cullen released the following statement celebrating the inaugural Telehealth Awareness Week.

“Too many Americans without broadband access, devices or digital skills are unable to unlock the full potential of telehealth solutions that can increase access to care, improve health care outcomes and enhance the quality of life,” Cullen said. “CAN is proud to participate in Telehealth Awareness Week and use this opportunity to highlight the need for every American community, regardless of zip code, to have access to an affordable and reliable broadband connection that can support virtual care solutions.”

“Americans’ use of broadband-enabled telehealth solutions climbed 35 percent from 2019 to 2020 and more than 75 percent of Americans say they would like to use telehealth services in the future,” Cullen added. “Congress must act to ensure Americans aren’t left behind — by passing the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and advancing additional, permanent solutions to ensure digital equity for every community.”

Founded in 2017, Connect Americans Now (CAN) is a broad-based coalition of more than 300 companies and organizations representing leading voices in agriculture, education, health care, veterans’ issues, technology, and small business — committed to urgent action to completely eliminate the digital divide in every American community.

Read about how the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will improve broadband connectivity and digital equity HERE.

Learn more about solutions to permanently close the broadband gap HERE.

Read more on CAN and our mission HERE.
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Sharing Information From Our Partners and Sponsors:
A new resource for NREA Members
A new resource for NREA Members
NREA is excited to go above and beyond to support members through our new partnership with DonorsChoose. DonorsChoose is a charity used by thousands of districts to provide a safe, systematic way for donors and foundations across America to provide resources for your schools and students.

Through their free District Partnership Program, DonorsChoose can help your teachers innovate, raise support from generous donors outside your community, and ensure every student has the resources for quality education. Rural districts have already benefited from $114 million in new, free resources thanks to the national community of DonorsChoose citizens and corporate donors, and we’re excited to see that impact grow.

As an NREA member, you have been automatically accepted into this exciting program which will provide you and your administrative team with exclusive benefits like
  • advanced notice of funding opportunities,
  • automated data reports,
  • a district-branded landing page on the DonorsChoose site, and much more.
To activate these free benefits, simply take <1 minute to fill out this district info form.

“DonorsChoose allows our district and our students to obtain and utilize the materials needed to be successful in their world. Our teachers are not afraid or too proud to reach out for help to ensure the betterment of our students, which allows us to achieve at higher levels than anyone thought possible.”
--NREA member Frank Killian, Superintendent
Richland R1 Schools, Missouri
NREA Foundation & Research Awards Announcements
The Rural Educator


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