The Rural Imperative Initiative aims to give a voice to rural schools across the nation. Missouri State University is partnering in this effort to bring the needs and concerns of rural schools to the attention of state, regional and national policymakers.
The initiative is a collaborative effort between Rural Schools Collaborative (RSC), National Rural Education Association (NREA) and Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO). The initiative is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Rural Imperative Initiative will help teacher-leaders connect policy to place in five rural regions: Appalachia, Black Belt, Borderlands, Rust Belt and Northern California.
The College of Education (COE) at Missouri State University is spearheading the rural school initiative program for the Rust Belt region.
“We’ll be working with school partners to identify teachers to participate in this initiative,” COE Interim Dean Barri Tinkler said. “The COE is very excited to be a part of this work to engage teacher’s voices in contributing to policy formation.”
Each of the five regions will create their own rural-teacher caucus. These groups will work together to create a “policy playbook” of local recommendations based on the specific challenges and opportunities in their area.
Each partner organization receives $10,000 in funding to support their regional teacher caucus.
Other regional partners include:
- Borderlands region: Arizona Rural Schools Association
- Appalachia region: The University of Tennessee – Chattanooga
- Black Belt region: The University of West Alabama
- Northern California region: North State Together
“Advocating for rural education has been a long-standing priority for each of these organizations,” RSC Executive Director Taylor McCabe-Juhnke said. “We are honored to work with such high caliber partners to create a meaningful platform for teacher advocacy.”
Over the coming school year, the policy playbook partnership will support these five partners in exploring the opportunities and challenges faced by teachers in their region. RSC, in partnership with the NREA, will then compile these recommendations and advocacy guidelines into a useful resource to benefit teachers and policymakers everywhere.