Roundup: Rural Districts ‘Race to the Top’

Rural districts among those selected for Department of Education grants • Focus on an Iowa physician • USDA, Department of Navy team up on renewable fuel initiative • Rural cancer patients more likely to retire early • Isolation and domestic violence •This week’s “condescending headline award goes too …

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This map of the U.S. resembles the iconic “Night Sky” shot taken from NASA satellites. But it’s a different form of illumination – television news coverage. This map depicts the geographic location of TV news stories. The brighter the light, the greater the number of stories TV reporters produced on those localities. The graphic is compiled by the Internet Archive from data tracking news coverage from June 2009 to October 2013.

 “Race to the Top.” Rural and small school districts were prominently represented in the most recent round of Race to the Top grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Awardees that received  grants were:

  • Clarendon County School District Two (consortium of four rural districts), South Carolina. Clarendon is a “non-core” county located in east-central South Carolina. Grant request, $25 million.
  • Clarksdale Municipal School District, Mississippi. Clarksdale is a city of about 20,000 residents in northwest Mississippi. Grant request, $10 million
  • Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative is a consortium of 18 rural districts. Approximate grant request, $30 million.
  • Springdale School District, Arkansas, is located in Washington and Benton counties. With a population of about 60,000, the city is the fourth-largest in Arkansas and is part of the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Area. Grant request, $25.9 million.
  • Houston Independent School District, Texas, is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the U.S. It has a population of about 2.2 million. Grant request, approximately $30 million.
Exact amounts of the grants are yet to be determined, a Department of Education representative said in an email, and summaries of the projects will be available in January.

More than 200 school districts applied for funding.

The awards “were based on the schools’ plan to improve teachers’ effectiveness, prepare students for life after high school and turn around specific challenges in their districts, such as high absenteeism or low graduation rates,” the Sacramento Bee reported. “The grants also set aside money to improve schools’ technologies and to teach educators how to customize curriculum based on students’ interests.”

Cancer Patients. Cancer patients living in rural Vermont were more likely to retire early than cancer patients who lived in urban areas, a study shows. The study also found that rural cancer patients were less likely than urban ones to receive disability insurance payments.

Sheltering Victims. The Arizona Republic profiles a domestic-violence shelter serving rural parts of the state. “In rural communities, often people are much more physically isolated and are often in terrifying and dangerous situations where nobody sees or nobody hears,” said Jane Hausne Hausner, executive director of the Verde Valley Sanctuary in Sedona. “So, it’s important to be available and to have outreach.” Sedona is a town of about 10,000 south of Flagstaff.

Search for Director. The Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire is looking for its first director. More information is available here.

Rural Iowa Doctor Delivers His Replacement. Dr. Richard Vermillion has learned a thing or two while treating the people of Ogden, Iowa, over the past 53 years.

One piece of advice the doctor has for new physicians, like his own grandson, who just completed a one-month rotation in Vermillion’s clinic is to “keep quiet and listen to your patients,” reports  Kyle Munson in the Des Moines Register. “They know their bodies better than anybody and most of the time can tell you what’s wrong.”

The story, which also got picked up in USA Today, profiles the 83-year-old Vermillion as a way to look at the challenge of getting new physicians to practice in rural areas.

Vermillion has his replacement picked out and already practicing at the family clinic. It’s a local man, Caleb Glawe, who “was born 39 years ago in the hospital in nearby Boone, Iowa, where he was ushered into this world by Vermillion’s own expert hands.”

“Farm to Fleet” Fuel. While the Environmental Protection Agency is considering decreasing the amount of renewable fuel that streams through the nation’s energy supply, the U.S. Navy and Department of Agriculture have announced a plan to increase the amount of ethanol in fuel that powers the U.S. fleet.

The “Farm-to-Fleet” partnership will use USDA funding to increase the Navy’s purchase of fuel that contains up to 50% ethanol.

“Not only will production of these fuels create jobs in rural America, they’re cost effective for our military, which is the biggest consumer of petroleum in the nation,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “America’s Navy shouldn’t have to depend on oil supplies from foreign nations to ensure our national defense, and rural America stands ready to provide clean, homegrown energy that increases our military’s energy independence and puts Americans to work.”

Deliveries should start in 2015.

Condescending Headline of the WeekToday’s Dietician takes the honors for the following headline: 

“Healthful Diets Possible in Low-Income, Rural Communities.” 

What they meant to say is that a research project found ways to improve the diets of low-income, rural residents. Otherwise, it sounds like nobody who is poor and lives in a rural area eats a healthy diet. And everybody knows that’s not true.

Don’t they?

(If you spot media reports about rural places and people that make you cringe, or that get rural stories “right,” send them our way – [email protected]).

 

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