MREA joined the National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition (NREAC) in Washington, DC in April to connect with federal legislators regarding rural education concerns. Todd Holthaus, MREA Board President, Dr. Luther Heller, MREA Board Member, and Dr. Fred Nolan, MREA Executive Director, attended on behalf of MREA to help develop the federal rural education legislative agenda.
MREA Raises Concerns
MREA’s delegates met with educational staffers for Representatives Collin Peterson and Tim Walz and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith. Key points of discussion included:
- Importance of E-rate and REAP funding to rural districts
- Importance of continued federal impact aid focus on public schools versus voucher program
- Teacher shortage and possible solutions
- Possibility that initially favorable Federal funding could go away through Administration recision
- Importance of fully funding special education
After visiting with legislators, participants developed a rural education legislative agenda. This will be shared with MREA members after approval by NREA members.
Attendees also heard from several leaders of national organizations regarding rural education concerns:
- Organizations Concerned about Rural Education: Funding issues and recision
- US Department of Education: REAP and department supports for rural schools
- Learning Policy Institute and American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education: Teacher shortage and the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Program
- Committee for Education Funding: FY’18 education funding and recision potential
- Center for American Progress: Gun-related school tragedies and policy proposals
Dr. Heller also participated in a panel discussion on how technology supports rural schools. Joining him were leaders from National Rural Education Association, Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association, and Talbot County (MD) Public Schools.