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Our Position & Actions On Rural Schools




Our Positions


Schools in rural areas and small towns face difficult challenges in serving the needs of children and public education. The National Education Association actively supports the development of programs that recognize and deal with the particular needs of students, educators, school employees and communities in the nation's vast rural areas.

Increase Attention to Rural Schools

The federal government must place increased emphasis on the needs of rural schools, including targeting resources to help attract, train and retain quality teachers. Background information and the Association’s specific recommendations are included in an issue paper on rural education. (June 2001)

Reauthorize the Forest County and Schools Program

NEA supports legislation that would reauthorize the Forest County and Schools Program.

In testimony presented to a congressional committee, NEA offered six recommendations for finding a "permanent solution" to the problem of funding schools in forested areas where funding now is tied to fluctuating timber sales. (July 2002)

Rural School and Community Trust

NEA supports the efforts of the Rural School and Community Trust to enlarge student learning and improve community life by strengthening relationships between rural schools and communities. The Trust supports "young people and their teachers who use community as a laboratory for learning" and assists "rural citizens in developing policies that address the unique issues of rural schooling and to build knowledgeable, effective persistent advocates for rural children, schools and communities."

Our Actions


  • Rural schools serve over 40 percent of our nation’s students, but receive only 22 percent of federal education funding. NEA is working with Congressional leaders to alleviate this disparity in funding.
  • Some rural districts that count on proceeds from federal timber sales have faced severe cuts due to the drop in timber revenue. NEA worked with federal lawmakers and brought relief to timber-funded schools.
  • Rural districts face unique educator recruitment and retention challenges. NEA supported special rural provisions in the Class Size Reduction program.
  • The E-Rate, which provides access to telecommunications and technology for schools and libraries at discounted rates, is of particular importance to rural schools dealing with geographic isolation. NEA continues to work with Congress and federal agencies to preserve and strengthen the E-Rate program.