Policy Playbook: Rural Teacher Policy Priorities

Through the review and synthesization of reported data, this Executive Summary identifies five emerging trends for rural education policy recommendations.

October 18, 2022 |
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The Policy Playbook Project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is intended to provide policymakers and advocates with insights from rural teachers across the country, regarding the areas and challenges they feel most important that policymakers and advocates take action on.

Rural Schools Collaborative and the National Rural Education Association are pleased to present this Executive Summary with the top five policy areas identified by rural teachers:

  1. Teacher Recruitment & Retention;
    1. Teacher Salaries & Benefits
    2. Teacher Recruitment
    3. Teacher Mentorship, Collaboration, and Professional Development
      Opportunities
    4. Classroom Supports (e.g., universal training for substitutes, protected class
      planning time)
    5. Increased Staff Funding (i.e., to support additional staff lines)
  2. Rural Education Funding;
    1. Funding as it relates to school/district/state;
    2. Funding as it relates to the support or development of student programming;
    3. Funding as it relates to educator compensation.
  3. Broadband/Technology Access;
    1. access to broadband and technology continues to be an area of need for rural schools, rural students, and rural communities.
    2. Institutions reported a lack of sufficient people-power to ensure individuals are benefitting from "E-Rate" programs
    3. While many students have access to the internet at school, students lack access to technology, equipment, and the internet in their homes
  4. Mental Health;
    1. Need for expanded mental health policies for both teachers and students,
    2. Need for additional mental health professionals at the K-12 level
    3. Need for innovative and flexible time policies for students and teachers
  5. Housing & Transportation.
    1. Transportation is a burden to teacher commuters as a result of area/region
      housing markets
    2. Transportation as it relates to the availability of adequate transportation of
      students and parents to education and extracurricular activities
    3. Teacher housing shortages

Special thanks to the Arizona Rural Schools Association, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, North State Together & CSU-Chico, the University of West Alabama, and Missouri State University for their participation in this project.

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To read more about the policy insights from each participating region, check out the regional reports below:

Hear from the Borderlands Rural Teacher Caucus on the impact of this project:

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