“Urbanite Duncan Continues Rural Outreach,” reads the headline in an Education Week blog post written by Michele McNeil. Education Secretary Arne Duncan (above), “whose education experience is firmly planted in urban ground, is continuing to reach out to rural folks to figure out how the reforms he’s pushing will play out int he farther reaches of the country.” So Duncan met with the “Rural Nine,” nine superintendents from rural school districts.
The superintendents told McNeil that they talked to Duncan about his urban centric plans for reforming schools. They told the Education Week correspondent that none of the reform models Duncan is pushing will work for rural schools. For instance, the most flexible plan calls for replacement of principals at failing schools. But where is a rural district supposed to find a choice of new principals. Trained school leaders aren’t exactly hanging around rural communities waiting for openings. The superintendents also complained about the time it took to apply for federal grants. “Many of us simply do not have the capacity to spend all of this time applying for grants,” one Michigan superintendent said.
Meanwhile, the Gates Foundation announced the winners of $290 million in education grants. None of the schools or school districts were in rural communities.