Rural and the ACA • Retaining teachers in Alaska • Mexican town DIYs a mobile network • Cleaning up water in Iowa
Affordable Care Act and Rural. Rural residents who don’t live next to a metropolitan statistical area pay 22% more out-of-pocket for health care costs. That’s one of the facts in a new report from the Center for Rural Affairs on the Affordable Care Act. The report, “Making Health Insurance Affordable: Assistance to Individuals and Families in the Affordable Care Act,” covers the basics of the health-care legislation and includes a section on how the changes might affect rural consumers.
Alaska School Teachers. Rural Alaska schools are having trouble retaining public school teachers, and that’s hurting students and communities, reports Correy Allen-Young of KTUU, Channel 2 News:
“We have districts where 20, 30, even 50 percent of the teachers are leaving every year,” said Diane Hirshberg, who is the director of the Center for Alaska Education Policy Research and says those numbers are tough to fill in remote parts of the Alaska.
She says the data shows when schools don’t have a consistent teacher, they get no investment from the community, which also makes it hard to convince new teachers to stick around.
“The students and the parents don’t have faith that those teachers are coming back again, the year after, you have a disconnect,” Hirshberg said. “You got teachers who are going to be frustrated, because then they see parents and students as not being concerned about school.”
Many of the rural teachers are out-of-state educators who go to Alaska for a short-term adventure and don’t plan to stick around, KTUU reports. The story also cites difficult working and living conditions in some of the state’s rural districts.
Some school systems are offering higher pay, more professional development and rewards for longevity in the job. The state also has programs to recruit and retain teachers, but low funding and a small applicant pool for teacher positions hamper those efforts.
Rural Mexican Village Starts Own Mobile Service. Talea de Castro, a rural community in Mexico’s state of Oaxaca, has launched its own mobile network called Red Celular de Talea. Commercial providers won’t serve the area because it isn’t profitable, according to an article in Hispanic Business. The network has reached more than 600 monthly users during a start-up trial and has 11 lines, with plans to triple that amount soon.
Water Quality in Iowa. An Iowa environmental coalition is pressuring the state to improve water quality in lakes, which are being affected by runoff and sewage.
The Iowa Environmental Council has filed a petition with a state water-quality agency to set standards for water clarity, nitrogen and phosphorus in 159 public lakes. The council also has a lawsuit asking the Environmental Protection Agency to set such standards that would apply in Iowa.
The Iowa League of Cities is concerned that higher standard would be too expensive for municipal wastewater treatment facilities to meet. The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation opposes the proposed water-quality measures.