Rural Education Summit

East Texas children are among the 45 percent of American school children who learn and grow in rural settings. They have advocates.   You could find them at Friday's National Rural Education Summit at SFA.

Mary Kusler, assistant director of government relations for the American Association of School Administrators said,   " It should not matter should you choose to live in rural East Texas or should you choose to live in urban Chicago. We should make sure that all kids are given the same access to a high quality public education. "

A live video cast via the Internet connected educators across America. They teach in one room school houses and the more traditional sized school. That's one of the problems. There's no clear cut definition of rural education. Michelle Chin, education policy advisor for  U.S. Senator Cornyn said,    " We tend to think of rural schools we lump them in one category, but it isn't so easy to define. "

Specialists talked about critical issues unique to rural education. Currently it is sudden growth and diminishing funding. Rachel Tompkins, President of Rural & Community Trust, a non-profit organization that is concerned with the education in poor, rural communities said,    " It is growing for a lot of reasons. I suppose it's growing in East Texas because you have increasing Latino population in your schools and that's happening in a number of places in the country. "

The challenges are many, so it's important not to lose sight of the purpose. The rural teacher of the year, Susan Luinstra provided the reminder with significant questions.    " Are we really teaching them to be thinkers? Are we really preparing them for the life they need to face as adults?" That insight comes from a teacher from a one room school of 12 students in a remote area of Montana.