WHAT IF… (Education)

  • What if our rural communities are given the flexibility to design and provide the safety net (human services) system for our most vulnerable residents in community-based partnerships? These services should be integrated into the community infrastructure through family/community resource centers. These centers can become our community hubs to support community livelihood, sustainability and cohesion.
  • Rural America has a hard time recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals.  A common strategy to combat this is to encourage local kids to attend medical school and then come back home.
    BUT what frequently happens is that the local kid goes to college and before they even get to medical school, meets the boy/girl of his/her dreams, and the life partner is from an urban area and doesn’t see a future living in rural America.
    WHAT IF… some sort of loan repayment or tax credit program was offered to the spouses of healthcare professionals to encourage them to set up a business in a rural community where their spouse was practicing?  So for example, the husband of a physician wanted to set up an accounting firm.  Hubby would be offered a $5000 loan to start the business, and for each year the business existed and the healthcare professional continued to practice in the area, a portion of the loan was forgiven.
  • What if we create through our combined networks an alternative government to drive a rural economy turning deficits into assets: poor health into employment; transportation; technology; infrastructure (schools); good deserts into food systems
  • What if the billion $s that the federal government wants to invest for further border national security (border wall) was redirected to more educational resources, healthcare (establishing universal healthcare to reduce the national debt), and to quality of housing and infrastructure. What if we created a national rural youth leadership program to engage youth people in civic engagement and to run for office?
  • What if we could really help ourselves and everyone around us understand that every child in each of our communities is our child? If we did that, would everyone and every organization came together to nourish all children with good food and good medical care and teach all children to read and to thrive so that the next generations are stronger and better than the current ones?
  • What if…No one tried to discredit ethnic groups, experiences, cultures and what they found offensive? Tribes were able to exercise full sovereignty? Native youth were given the tools they need to reach their full potential (sustainable living, top of the line school facilities, committed teachers/mentors, supportive communities, access to better healthcare, fully funded programs) and had nothing to stop them?
  • What if where we live doesn’t negatively limit educational or health outcomes?
  • What if .. dream… Provide employment opportunities for all rural citizens so they may afford the lifestyle (health, education, and home) they so choose for themselves and their family?
  • What if education curriculum was based on assets of place?
  • What if we create a two generation approach focused on entrepreneurship and financial literacy. We create a national think tank to address poverty for youth K-12 and their families. We create digital and printed rural development toolkits and help build the capacity of local leaders. We create a mobile app that provides continuing education and resources for rural leaders, develop a national coalition to fund projects in rural communities. Help non-profits create for-profit entities to support sustainable
  • What if a teacher prep program was created in the MS Delta centered on place, language, context and recruited, selected and prepared veterans, people who have been formerly incarcerated, people receiving public assistance, and other adults who have not had past success with traditional education routes. This would provide a pipeline of local educators prepared to teach in their local communities and create a viable means of transitioning more adults to middle class.
  • What if… a rural/native college going culture. A K-12 particular intense focus on middle school model. A 3 Gen approach community wide culture change
  • What if …In most small rural communities -> K-12 education is the #1 employer? We need to make K-12 education the pillar of the community and economic development. -> Breakdown silos
  • What if children growing up in rural areas – and educators and programs that serve them – had equal ACCESS to resources of all kinds to fuel learning and open new opportunities for children to reach their potential?
  • What if every rural school embraced place-based education?
  • What if crop farms turned from monoculture to growing food for people (esp local) and schools?
  • What if every participant read Paul Theobald’s “Teaching the Commons”?
  • What if… – Schools valued growth mindset over competency? – …We did not openly discriminate against 1/4 of our population? 1 in 4 have a criminal history. We should have an automatic streamlined expungement process. – …We had a leadership pipeline that flowed seamlessly from the educational system to the community? (opportunities to grow and serve – community action teams w/youth [illegible]) …-We expanded afterschool programming and engaged and afforded an opportunity for every youth in some extracurricular activity? …- Schools focused on an interdisciplinary learning approach that included practical life skills with social and emotional learning. – …Employers focused on doing community workshops to engage potential employees instead of job fairs?
  • What if community colleges had resources and mission to cultivate rural leaders to scale?