Office of the Superintendent

Juneau Presses Arne Duncan on Education Reform in Rural, Frontier States

Thursday, April 1, 2010, 3:20 pm

Denise Juneau was Washington, D.C., last week to stand up for rural schools and schools on reservations.  Rural districts face challenges in complying with the methods set for improving results in their lowest-performing schools – action required as a condition for receiving billions of dollars in federal aid, Education Week’s Lesli Maxwell writes here.

But rural means something very different on the eastern seaboard than it does in the West, Juneau told Education Secretary Arne Duncan:

"The frontier is really where we are," she says. "We are more rural than rural."

Maxwell reports that:

Ms. Juneau emphasized that even the so-called transformation model, which is less drastic than the three other turnaround models that the U.S. Department of Education has said are acceptable, won’t work in her state because the approach requires the principals to be replaced. The five schools that Montana has identified as the lowest-performing are all located on isolated American Indian reservations she said.

Even if those districts could find strong principals to replace the existing ones, Ms. Juneau said, there are more fundamental challenges, such as where they would stay.

"We lack housing," she told the secretary. "If we want to get a turnaround specialist in these places, we may not even be able to buy a double-wide trailer for them."

For more information, contact Jessica Rhoades, 406.444.3160