RPM's Take on Rural Language in Blueprint for Reform

Last Updated: March 26, 2010

This article appeared in the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

Blueprint will continue to make formula grants for rural school districts through the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) in both the SRSA and RLIS categories. In addition, RLIS districts will get the same teacher quality flexibility that SRSA districts have had. RLIS districts are larger and generally poorer and more racially diverse than SRSA districts, and they are much more likely to be located in southern states with large, often county-wide school districts.

In a section on rural schools, Blueprint says it will “better align the accountability requirements of the College- and Career-Ready Students program with the rural education program, so that rural education program supports school improvement efforts in persistently low-performing districts.” We are not sure what this means.

The same sections says that in order to “help rural districts apply for competitive grants and determine effective strategies for improving student academic achievement the Secretary may reserve funds for national activities such as technical assistance and research on innovative programs that are designed to help rural districts overcome common capacity constraints.”

In addition, a description of competitive grants for teacher preparation programs says that consideration will be given to the extent to which programs meet the needs of high-need areas, including rural areas.

Comment: Mention of rural schools in Blueprint could give the illusion that something is actually being done for rural schools. But the requirements proposed in Blueprint are designed for urban situations and simply helping rural districts access these programs will not offer much that will make a difference for rural poor children and youth.

Read more from the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.