Iowa is America's country-school capital, according to the editor of a new 256-page book compiled by the Iowa Education Association.
William L. Sherman, the union's public relations director, organized and edited Iowa's Country Schools: Landmarks of Learning. The book reports that 2,911 one- and two-room schools still stand across Iowa, of which 188 are museums, 1,039 are homes, and 563 are farm buildings. The rest are vacant or being used as community centers, garages, or for other purposes.
"I feel that we have documented that Iowa has more remaining one-room schools, and more that are maintained as museums, than any state in the nation," Mr. Sherman said.
While there were 12,623 one -or two-room schools in Iowa at their peak in 1901, just six are still operated as schools today. The book includes more than 400 photographs and several essays on the architecture and influence of the schools.
It also recounts a November 1965 encounter in which Amish children ran into cornfields rather than board buses to attend accredited public schools, as required by state law. In 1967, legislators amended the law to allow for religious exemptions from state school standards.
The book is $27.95 and can be ordered through most bookstores or from Mid-Prairie Books, PO Box H, Parkersburg, IA 50665, or by calling (319) 346-2048.
Organizations Concerned about Rural Education has launched a grassroots effort to rebuild schools in the nation's small communities.
To help raise public awareness of the issue, the 26-member Washington-based coalition has produced a 30-minute video that depicts the dilapidated condition of many schools in rural America. The tape comes with a manual that outlines plans to lobby state and federal lawmakers on school facility needs and to seek local school bonds. Copies of the free videotape are available by calling the OCRE at (202) 822-7683.
"Raising Standards for Rural Education" is the theme for the 90th annual National Rural Education Association convention, to be held Oct. 14-18 in Buffalo, N.Y.
Some 88 small-group sessions will be held, covering topics such as special education, technology, teacher training, and classroom diversity. State Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills will be a featured speaker.
Registration materials can be obtained from the NREA or by calling NREA at (970) 491-7022.
--ROBERT C. JOHNSTONrjohns@epe.org
Vol. 17, Issue 42, Page 8