Southeast Regional Education Summit Releases "Roadmap"

Last Updated: August 25, 2011

This article appeared in the August 2011 Rural Policy Matters.

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The Southeast Regional Education Summit, held July 19-20 in Nashville, brought together educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders to share best practices and discuss regional and national policy developments.

The meeting was co-sponsored by the Rural Trust, Tennessee SCORE (State Collaborative on Reforming Education), the Ayers Foundation, the Niswonger Foundation, and the Tennessee School Boards Association.

Speakers included John White, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education; Bill Frist, former Senate Majority Leader from Tennessee; and, Kevin Huffman, Tennessee Commissioner of Education.

Sessions addressed a variety of topics, including strategies for improving graduation and college completion rates; teacher training, recruitment, and retention; using technology to improve student achievement and support teacher professional development; turning around low-performing schools; bolstering principal success; improving rural education through community development; and implications of policy for rural schools.

Former Rural Trust President Rachel Tompkins facilitated a panel discussion on early childhood education, and Rural Trust Communications and Marketing Director Robert Mahaffey participated in a panel discussion on the impact of number weighting in the Title I formula for high-poverty rural districts. “High poverty school districts in the rural South are among the districts most hurt by number weighting,” said Mahaffey. “So it’s important for regional policy makers and local educators to understand how the formula affects their schools and the resources available to broaden opportunities for their most vulnerable students.”

Following the Summit co-sponsors released a report, Transforming the Rural South: A Roadmap to Improving Rural Education.

The report identifies six topics of concern for rural schools and suggests action strategies for state policymakers and officials, business and community leaders, educators, and parents. The topics include:

  • Highlighting the connection between education and economic development
  • Offering schools and districts more flexibility
  • Forming a pipeline of effective teachers
  • Using technology to meet instructional needs
  • Creating professional learning communities for administrators
  • Forming partnerships to enhance educational opportunities

Action strategies include stressing the connection between education and jobs; providing local schools and districts with more flexibility, including flexibility related to distance learning; providing incentives for teachers in hard-to-staff schools and subjects; building partnerships between rural schools and teacher training institutions; creating professional learning communities for rural teachers and administrators; and, creating partnerships between schools and businesses, non-profits, and the philanthropic community.

Read more:

Transforming the Rural South: A Roadmap to Improving Rural Education:

SCORE Press release for Rural Roadmap:

Read more from the August 2011 Rural Policy Matters.

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