Arkansas Groups Gear Up for Action on Formula Fairness Campaign

Last Updated: July 24, 2010

This article appeared in the July 2010 Rural Policy Matters

Arkansas Rural Education Association (AREA) and the Rural Community Alliance (RCA), both co-sponsors of the Formula Fairness Campaign, geared up for the Title I formula fight almost certain to be part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by asking Rural Trust Policy Director Marty Strange to address leadership gatherings in July.

The RCA summer conference at Conway, Arkansas, brought together about 100 chapter leaders and other key activists from across the state for a wide ranging series of discussions. The Title I session focused on giving the leaders a good grounding in the Title I formula and the inequities imposed on rural and small schools. More detailed training on campaign strategies and actions will take place in early September.

The conference also featured sessions on website development, building community assets, community organizing, engaging youth, and interactive sessions with invited state legislators.

“It’s really a pleasure to see the growth, not only in the numbers of committed leaders and local chapters, but also in the political sophistication and self-confidence of the group as a whole,” commented Strange.

Responding to Lavina Grandon, the organization’s founder and President who introduced Strange by saying he had mentored the organization from the beginning, he said, “We may have mentored you for 15 minutes but we’ve been trying to keep up with you ever since.”

At the AREA annual conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, Strange briefed the membership on the Title I formula issues and the Formula Fairness Campaign objectives, and urged them to do three things to help the effort.

First, keep AREA itself a strong organization capable of brining pressure on the Arkansas congressional delegation. Second, he said, encourage members and others to go on-line to the campaign website ( to learn the issues, sign the petition, and sign-up to receive action alerts.

Finally, he urged, “Help us 'humanize' this issue. It’s a lot about numbers and formulas, and we need to make it about people. We need profiles of real schools and kids, and educators who are hurt by the Title I formula. We need to be able to tell people what you could do with the Title I money you should be getting but are not because of the discrimination against rural and small schools."

Read more from the July 2010 Rural Policy Matters.