Making ‘Rural’ Relevant
Oct 29, 2014
1. bearing upon or connected with the matter inhand; pertinent:
[roo r–uh l]
1.of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the country,country life, or country people;
2.living in the country:
the rural population.
3.of or pertaining to agriculture:
4.a person who lives in a rural area.
What does being a ‘Rural Educator’ mean to me? I left the 2014 National Rural Education Association Convention a few weeks ago, honored to have been a closing Keynote speaker. In the three days at the Convention I heard many different rural educators from all different locales & education professions. There were University professors whose research revolved around rural American schools, teachers illustrating practices from high performing rural schools, and administrators discussing different strategies they use to make their rural schools successful. To me being a “Rural Educator” means I represent an underserved population of our society that desperately needs an outstanding educational experience.
The data is there; rural students are completing college at an extremely low rate. Roughly ½ as many rural students are completing four year degrees in comparison to urban students.
*High School BenchMarks Report (October, 2013)
I was born and attended school in rural America. Now, more than ever, data like this makes the need for ALL STUDENTS, regardless of their locale or socioeconomic status, to receive a WORLD CLASS education an absolute imperative.
As rural educators I believe we are facing a challenge of keeping our struggles relevant in the giant landscape that is our American Education System.
When I talk to most educators they have no idea that rural education actually impacts 11 million students in America, and includes more than 1/3 of America’s schools. As our NASSP president, G.A. Buie pointed out to me in a recent discussion about rural schools, you don’t see our supporting administrative organizations (NASSP, NAESP, ASCD, ISTE) with a “Rural Focus.” What a telling statement! There is a huge amount of resources channeled into the “Urban Focus” of our professional associations, which is definitely a needed and well-used resource, however, why not a “Rural Focus” TOO? I simply don’t think we as rural educators are speaking up!
SO…..Speak loudly Rural Educators; we are the group that must represent our students; we are the people our students, parents, & communities count on. WE ARE THEIR VOICES. Be a voice that is heard.