To the Editor:
All kids in America deserve a fair chance to succeed, and rural kids are no exception. The expiration next year of the federal Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act threatens to deprive rural schools of already-scarce resources, and will force them to cut services to students (“Lawmakers Say Rural Schools Will Suffer if SRSCA Dropped,” Rural Education blog, edweek.org, July 26, 2010).
One in five children lives in poverty in the United States, but the rate approaches one in two in rural areas like Bolivar County, Miss., where Save the Children operates vital education programs. Education is the best pathway out of poverty. In fact, fewer than 4 percent of Americans with a college degree live in poverty. Regardless of the political debate behind reauthorizing the SRSCA, we can’t let rural kids fall further behind.
Government, business, individuals, and nonprofits can all help level the playing field for kids, whether they live in the Bronx or Biloxi. Save the Children’s U.S. Programs division partners with businesses and governments to provide education and fitness programs to children in 150 of the poorest communities in rural America. And these efforts work: We doubled the number of kids reading at grade level in our programs.
To make a long-term impact for children, all sectors of society must live up to their roles in ensuring a fair start for kids. Congress should play its part by ensuring that the most vulnerable children are never held hostage by the machinations of the congressional funding process.
Senior Vice President
Save the Children U.S. Programs
A version of this article appeared in the August 11, 2010 edition of Education Week as Congress: Rural Kids Deserve a ‘Fair Start’