Highlights From Rural-Ed. Deputy Secretary’s Twitter Town Hall

By Diette Courrégé Casey — August 31, 2011 1 min read
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I tuned in for today’s first-ever rural town hall meeting on Twitter with John White, the U.S. Department of Education’s deputy secretary for rural outreach.

There were a few interesting tidbits of information, but some of the roughly dozen questions asked went unanswered.

I emailed afterward with White, and he said he thought it went well but would like to allow more time in the future. It took longer than he expected to work with the department’s firewall.

He said he tried to answer a few Tweets that were submitted in advance, a few live Tweets, a resources question, and some timely topics so it would be of broad interest. White said he’d be open to Twitter forums on specific topics in the future, such as college access or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Here are some of the highlights from today’s chat:

• Details for states wanting waivers from the federal No Child Left Behind law will be announced in mid-September, and the department has been and will continue to solicit comments from educators.

• Rural schools looking for resources can turn to Rural Development state offices for help with buildings, teacher housing, and distance learning equipment, and university extension offices can help with family engagement, 4-H programs, and STEM initiatives.

Income-Based Repayment Plans, which cap monthly payments for federal student loans, can be a teacher recruitment tool.

• The proposed Teacher and Leader Pathways program would support “grow your own” and other rural education programs.

My question was about the biggest rural education issue or project White is working on right now. It wasn’t answered during the session, but White said afterward that his answer is increasing college access in rural schools and awareness of resources for rural schools that are available across government.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held the department’s first Twitter town hall event.

What did you think of today’s Twitter town hall meeting? Have any suggestions for the future? White encouraged suggestion or feedback to e-mail

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.