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Thanks to Makerspaces, Rural Schools Can Teach STEM Skills Too

Ed Tech Magazine – Meghan Bogardus Cortez

“While rural schools are often struggling with digital equity issues — from Wi-Fi outside of school to adequate technology-related professional development for teachers — they can still embrace innovative technologies with a few tweaks. With 9 million students enrolled in rural school districts, organizations such as Future Ready Schools have stepped up to outline plans so those students don’t get left behind from trends like personalized learning.”(more)

Growing Fab Lab Network Brings the High-Tech, Hands-On STEM Education Out to Rural K-12 Students

The 74 Million – Tim Newcomb

“Traveling south about an hour from downtown Pittsburgh along Pennsylvania Route 43, visitors roll into Coal Center, home to Intermediate Unit 1, a regional education service agency. Intermediate Unit 1 also serves as home to a Fab Lab — a highly technical maker space packed with the latest machines and programs to spur hands-on STEM learning. As Fab Labs branch out across the nation, thanks in part to a $10 million, three-year push by Chevron to locate 10 labs where they can serve a diverse population of school-age children, rural communities that otherwise wouldn’t have access to such sophisticated technical equipment have reaped the benefits for their students.”(more)

In a Changing Rural America, What Can Charter Schools Offer?

Education Next – Paul Hill and Terry Ryan

“Rural America is not your grandparents’ heartland. Its population is getting older: 21 of the 25 oldest counties in the United States are rural. It’s no longer overwhelmingly white: One in five rural residents is a person of color, and more than four of five new rural residents are people of color. Rural areas are also poorer and, ever since the 2007 recession, more affected by unemployment. As rural America changes, its schools have struggled to keep up. On 2015 NAEP assessments, only one in three eighth-grade rural students were proficient in math or reading, about where urban students scored and well below their suburban peers. While rural students are likely to graduate from high school, they lag far behind on every college indicator—applications, admission, attendance, readiness, grades, persistence, and graduation.”(more)

Solving the Rural Education Gap: Experts Weigh In on New Report’s Findings Tying Gap to Prosperity

The 74 Million – Mareesa Nicosia

“About half of all U.S. public school districts are considered rural, and they collectively enroll some 12 million students, or one-quarter of the total public school population, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Whether these students end up graduating from high school and college, and how they fare in the workforce, is linked inextricably to their rural education experiences, a new report finds. The study, published in April by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, sheds light on the state of rural education and its relationship to economic prosperity in regions of the country that played a pivotal part in President Donald Trump’s election.”(more)

Outside the limelight, rural schools face challenges in finding, and keeping, teachers

Ed Source – Fermin Leal

“Walking through the hallways of Tranquility Elementary School, Principal Matt Kinnunen regularly pokes his head into classrooms to check on his teachers, especially the newer ones. He asks about their day, assists them with student lessons and offers advice. It’s part of a routine to help them feel valued and supported. And maybe that will keep a few from leaving the small, rural campus in California’s Central Valley, a region hit especially hard by the state’s ongoing teacher shortage. Kinnunen’s school is one of six that make up Golden Plains Unified, a 1,770-student district 40 miles west of Fresno that spreads across three tiny towns and 16,600 acres of mostly almond, raisin and cotton farms.”(more)

How Maker Mindsets Can Be An Easy Fit For Rural Schools

KQED News Mind/Shift – Leah Shaffer

“The maker movement has expanded greatly in recent years and much of the attention has focused on cities with high population density and large well-funded school districts. In rural districts, teachers are also developing maker projects to help students gain the benefits that come from hands-on experiences, while better understanding the needs of their communities.”(more)