The Annenberg Rural Challenge recently announced two new recipients of its grants to promote rural school reform.
The three-school Tillamook County Education Consortium in Oregon will receive $321,160 for outreach programs aimed at bringing together senior citizens, students, and teachers to work on community issues.
The Sierra Nevada Education Alliance in Camptonville, Calif., will get $265,500 to work with schools on visual and performing arts projects focusing on local culture and the environment.
Since 1995, the Granby, Colo.-based Rural Challenge group has awarded $20 million in matching grants to 23 projects involving some 250 schools and communities. The nonprofit organization is independent, but is financed by the St. Davids, Pa.,-based Annenberg Foundation.
The Rural Challenge represents the largest effort to re-examine rural public education "and its relationship to life in rural communities since the turn of the century," its national director, Paul Nachtigal, said.
The nation's rural population is growing at its second-fastest rate in 75 years, according to a study by Kenneth M. Johnson, a sociology professor at Loyola University in Chicago.
Analysis of U.S. Bureau of the Census data found that in areas with urban centers of fewer than 50,000, the population grew by 3 million, or 5.9 percent, between April 1990 and July 1996.
The gains were greatest in the Mountain West, the Upper Great Lakes, the Ozarks, parts of the South, and rural areas of the Northeast. Widespread losses occurred in the Great Plains, the Western Corn Belt, and the Mississippi Delta.
The data suggest rural population losses in the 1980s were just a pause from the growth of the 1970s, Mr. Johnson said. "Findings also indicate that future rural growth or decline is becoming increasingly dependent on migration from urban areas," he added.
The National Rural Education Association's 89th annual national convention will be held Sept. 24-27 in Tucson, Ariz.
Recently announced speakers include Lisa Graham Keegan, Arizona's superintendent of public instruction, and Carolyn Warner, the state's schools chief from 1974 through 1986.
Hundreds of rural educators from across the country are expected to attend convention sessions on school research and federal legislation on special education, school-to-work issues, and technology.
Details are available from the NREA at (970) 491-7022, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
--ROBERT C. JOHNSTON email@example.com