Roundup: A Response to Historical Trauma

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Child sexual abuse by Catholic priests traumatized not just individual children but entire Alaskan Native cultures, says Mary Annette Pember in a magazine-length report in Indian Country Today Media Network. The results of this “historical trauma” can be seen in the incidence of violence, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and a range of other mental and physical health issues among Alaska Natives.

The first installment of Pember’s series examines a rapid-response trauma intervention team that is using traditional Yup’ik cultural methods to help communities heal after disturbing events like murder.

It’s worth a read.

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Rural school districts could improve teacher recruiting by promoting the non-materialistic benefits of living and working in a small community, according to a report in Slate.

Take for example, the case of Ed Wiest, who taught in a more urban area before moving to Pryor, Montana.

Over the years, Wiest came to appreciate the many benefits of working in a small, rural school—benefits he believes could be more overtly marketed. With small class sizes (usually fewer than 10 students), he developed deep relationships with the students and could easily track their progress from year to year. Being [his school’s] sole math teacher—“I am the math department,” he jokes—feels freeing, not isolating. Wiest chooses his own curriculum, controls the pace of his lessons, and is more empowered to experiment with classroom structure.

The article cites a study that found rural districts rarely highlight non-monetary benefits of teaching in a small town. Another study found that rural superintendents had better luck recruiting teachers when they promoted “the advantages of teaching and living in the area,” as opposed to monetary rewards like loan forgiveness.

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Could such a teacher recruiting strategy be helpful in Wisconsin? The head of the Rural Schools Alliance there says rural districts are losing teachers to urban schools that can pay higher salaries and even signing bonuses, says Wisconsin Public Radio. (Can they trade teachers to a different team, too?)

Also in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker is behind a funding formula change that will reduce overall public education funding but could have a severe impact on small, rural districts.

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Disparaging Headline of the Day: “Tech Conference in Middle of Nowhere Attracts John McAfee, Atari Founder & More.” That “middle of nowhere” is Opelika, Alabama, which boasts a 1 gigabit per second broadband network. In terms of digital communication, that puts Opelika at the center of just about anything its citizens and institutions would care to be in the center of. And meanwhile, they get to live in a city of about 28,000 residents. Sounds like a good deal to us.

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The National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation lasts throughout the month of April, with cities around the U.S. vying to get the largest percentage of their population to take the pledge. Crete, Nebraska, with a population of about 7,000, is the defending champion for cities of 5,000 to 29,999 residents. Too bad – there’s no category for smaller cities.

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A proposal to redistribute sales tax revenue in North Carolina unnecessarily pits urban against rural communities, says the Raleigh News & Observer in an editorial.

A Republican state senator says he will submit legislation to distribute more sales tax revenue based on the locality of the overall population rather than on the location of the seller.  In other words, if a buyer was from out of town, more of the sales tax revenue would follow that buyer home and wind up in the coffers of his local governments rather than the governments where he shops.

The proposal would create big losers and winners. Massive Mecklenburg County could lose $35 million a year, while smaller counties would see large percentage increases (though sometimes large percentage changes don’t amount to much in actual dollars).

The major supporter of the proposal, Senator Harry Brown, says the measure is an attempt to address disparity between urban and rural North Carolina. “I think over time we’ve started to develop two North Carolinas,” Brown told the News & Observer. “We’ve got to find a way to make this thing fair.”

But others say the Republicans are attempting to help rural areas at the expense of urban ones. Why would they do that? Because major cities are more Democratic, they say. The measure is “a continuation of tensions ramped up by Republicans who seem to want to pit rural North Carolina against urban North Carolina,” says the News & Observer editorial. “That’s not fair to either the cities or those counties that are almost entirely rural.”

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Phones companies have selected the next target in a national effort to undo consumer protections that ensure each household can get a landline phone.

Last month the Kentucky Legislature passed a bill dubbed “the AT&T bill” which will relieve phone companies of much of their historic responsibility to maintain phone lines.

Next stop on the deregulation tour: Minnesota.

Typically such deregulation allows phone companies to stop offering landlines if they are offering alternatives like cell service or Internet-based phone service. One problem, as many rural people know, is that there’s frequently a difference in the service area a phone company has on paper and what it has in reality.

Minnesota’s attorney general, Lori Swanson, opposes the change. She said the proposal will lead to higher consumer prices and reduced service in rural areas. Phone companies say they will be more competitive without the regulations.

By now, these arguments should sound familiar. We’ve heard them over and over in the past few years as phone companies have rolled back deregulation in one form or another in about half of U.S. states.

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We hear a lot about efforts to rev up activity in rural areas, but the Oklahoma Legislature would like to cool things down a bit in unincorporated parts of the state.

A state House bill would restrict the operation of strip clubs in unincorporated areas that lack county-wide zoning. The bill resulted from the construction of an “adult entertainment” establishment on the Mayes-Rogers county line near one of the state’s largest Amish communities, according to a press release reported by a Tulsa television station.

The bill would only affect those counties that had not already created land-use plans, which typically regulate strip clubs.

 

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