Schools, Education, and Child Care

Invest in Rural Communities


Schools, Education, and Child Care

Communities depend on public schools so that students can acquire the skills and knowledge to be ready to seize their future, but rural school districts face persistent staffing problems, and rural educators often have qualification gaps when compared to their urban counterparts. In the face of attacks on schools, teachers, students, and parents, we need to support our schools to be successful hubs for learning, care, and engagement for the entire community.

Access to affordable child care is critical for families’ financial well-being. But limited access prevents parents from entering the workforce, limits businesses from hiring staff, and reduces, and tax revenues. Child care in rural America is extremely limited with a gap of 35.1% in rural areas.

Policy Priorities

  1. Federal: The Secure Rural Schools Program provides critical funding for schools, roads, and other municipal services to more than 700 counties. Without action, its authorization will expire in the fall of 2023.
  2. Federal: Pass the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act and the Preparing and Retaining All (PARA) Educators Act to address the significant educator and school staff shortages in rural communities. These bills prioritize staff recruitment and retention efforts in rural communities. They also support programs like Grow Your Own that encourage educators and staff to remain in their professions and communities. These bills ensure funding is equitably distributed so that students in rural communities have the same support and resources as their peers in neighboring communities.
  3. Federal: Schools serve more than just the students, and we can support schools to meet the wide-ranging needs of their community by passing the Full-Service Community School Expansion Act.
  4. Federal: Early childhood education is critical for a child’s development and their parents’ freedom to work and provide for their family. But rural families have few options for day care and child care services. Provide Universal Pre-K, and set up families for success.
  5. Federal: Appropriate full funding for Act Q under title VIII of the Higher Education Act to provide rural development grants to rural colleges. To identify eligibility for these grants, the federal Department of Education should be directed to create a Rural Serving Institution designation for colleges.
  6. Federal: The Child Care for Every Community Act would increase access by subsidizing child care administrators — including small businesses, state, and Tribal entities — and capping the amount a family is required to pay for those services.
  7. Federal: Pass the Expanding Child Care in Rural America Act and direct USDA rural development to prioritize child care businesses and facilities in existing programs.
  8. State: Appropriate funds to incentivize teachers to work in rural communities.

State Examples

  • Colorado (CO 2016 SB 104) considered a bill that would create multiple programs to incentivize teachers to work in rural districts. They were also hoping to establish a rural educator position in the Department of Education to oversee rural teaching recruitment issues.
  • Minnesota (MN 2016 H 2749) enacted a grant program that provided student teaching stipends for low-income students and grants for licensed teachers who agree to teach in a high-need subject area or geographic region.