November 2010

Can students do rural community development?

by Steve Wyckoff on November 30, 2010

Several things have become clear to me when thinking about school change in rural America. I’ve been listening to conversations about declining enrollment for over 20 years. During that time I’ve facilitated goal setting for many boards of education in rural communities. Most of them have a discussion during that goal setting about stealing students from their neighbors. Few, if any, succeed consistently at this goal.

I’ve been thinking about this issue differently over the last year. What we really need to do is to attract new residents to our rural communities. Not an easy task, but it can be done. We do have new families move into our rural communities, just not often enough (visit Mergenthaler’s website for more data).

So recently I began to think about this issue from the perspective of a family considering a move to rural America. I think, generally speaking, a family would consider two things in deciding where to relocate.

First, they would want to know about the schools. If it were me, I would want to know what the school could do to help my child become remarkable. No, most parents wouldn’t use the word remarkable, but I think that’s what all of us want for our kids. Unfortunately, we usually settle for our kids surviving the system.

Secondly, they would want to know what the community had to offer. Would my family fit in? Would we be welcomed? Are there things to do, that we enjoy doing? Are the amenities present that we need to live the lifestyle that we desire? Will our finances go further than they did in the city?

A couple of thoughts about answering these questions. First of all our rural communities need to be thinking from this perspective, and as a community take action to develop our community. The same things that would attract a new family will be attractive to the current residents.

This is also a great opportunity to engage our students in real-world experiences that are meaningful and engaging, and at the same time prepare them for the real world. There is no reason that our students couldn’t be involved in all aspects of community development. Their activities would not only be of benefit to the community, but would also facilitate the learning and application of academic skills in a real-world setting.

The new key component  that I’ve learned over the last year is how people find what they want in the 21st century. The first thing we do today when we want to find something is Google it. So we need to teach our rural communities and our schools how to present themselves so that they’re found on Google.

The second part of that key component is social networking. Over 200 million Americans are on Facebook. Our schools and communities need to have a presence on Facebook and work diligently to spread the word about our schools and communities through Facebook and other social media.

As we consider school change it is imperative that we also consider community development, and how to market our schools and communities in the 21st century. Kansas, and almost all of the other 49 states, have substantial rural populations and there is no reason that we can’t educate our kids better and at the same time develop and market our rural communities. Now that would be real school change. – Steve Wyckoff

Erie USD 101 making a big move, can you help them?

by Steve Wyckoff on November 19, 2010

John Wyrick, superintendent at USD 101 in collaboration with the Erie community are making a bold move into the digital age. They are embarking on a marketing strategy for their school and community utilizing social media and search engine optimization of the community website to attract new visitors and residents

Their first goal is to have 1000 “likes” on their Facebook page. Help them out by clicking the link and liking them!

Erie is part of a larger group engaged in rural education and community development collaboration. There the first district to make a tactical move, But they certainly won’t be the last.

I hope you can see it to help these  rural districts and communities help themselves! PLEASE SPRESD THE WORD FOR THEM!

So what changes should be made?

November 17, 2010

In my previous post, School change:  so does Oklahoma get it, and Kansas doesn’t?, I was responding to an e-mail sent to me after my post, School change: Oklahoma gets it, Kansas doesn’t. Part of that e-mail asked the question: Other comments have to do with what the direction of education should be. We keep hearing […]

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So does Oklahoma get it, and Kansas doesn’t?

November 17, 2010

I received an email from a superintendent/friend regarding my blog post Oklahoma Gets It, Kansas Doesn’t, and I’d like to respond here so that others with the same questions/thoughts might see my response also. Your recent article “Oklahoma gets it, Kansas doesn’t” has raised some conversation within our district. One of the comments was “That’s […]

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But don’t you earn more with a college degree?

November 16, 2010

I was asked a really good question recently following a presentation on school change. I was asked to explain the paradox between two schools of thought regarding college educations. On one hand we read all the time the data that indicates how much more money you will earn in your lifetime as a college graduate, […]

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Oklahoma gets it, Kansas doesn’t

November 13, 2010

It’s Saturday morning and I intended to get up, drink my coffee, and catch up on the news. But when I checked my e-mail I had a slug of comments from our Facebook group Rural Education and Community Development Collaboration. So I read through them first. Big mistake. I read a post from Craig Stranathan […]

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Cognitive strength and conditioning.

November 8, 2010

I recently had a conversation with the teacher who read my blog post on high school math. I was told that I’d missed the most important aspect regarding students learning math in high school. The most important aspect, I was told, is that students need to learn algebra and other higher math because it trains […]

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School change: the perfect little world of universities

November 3, 2010

What magic elixir can KBOR possibly be feeding the rest of the education world? How else can you explain the hold that the universities have on K-12 education. The perfect little world of colleges! How do you get a gig like this! First of all universities get to dictate what and how high school kids […]

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School change: YEK …. AWESOME!

November 1, 2010

One of the projects that I’m actively involved in is the movement to incorporate entrepreneurship into schools, especially small, rural, declining enrollment schools. The group that I’m working with is very specific in their desire. They don’t want kids to learn about entrepreneurship, they want the students to practice the discipline of entrepreneurs. I believe […]

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