Rural schools focus of events
Residents of Southern Illinois will have three opportunities this week to discuss challenges and opportunities facing public schools in predominantly rural communities.
Illinois Humanities, in partnership with the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, plans to present “The Future of Rural Public Schools,” consisting of free public programs in Alexander, Union, and Jackson counties during the last week of April.
“The Future of Rural Public Schools” is scheduled to include town hall events at Egyptian High School in Tamms on Tuesday, April 25, at 6 p.m., and at Cobden High School on Wednesday, April 26, at 6 p.m.
A roundtable discussion-based program is planned at Giant City School in the Boskydell area, just southeast of Carbondale, on Thursday, April 27, at 6:30 p.m.
Each of the two town hall programs will feature a brief keynote presentation by Gary Funk, director of the Rural Schools Collaborative, an organization that seeks to strengthen the bonds between rural schools and communities.
After his presentation, everyone in attendance will be invited to participate in small-group discussions featuring Funk; David Ardrey, director of the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, based in Carbondale; and local public school leaders, including superintendent Brad Misner and board of education member Lamar Houston at Egyptian on April 25 and superintendent Edwin Shoemate at Cobden on April 26.
During the April 27 roundtable-based program at Giant City School, a panel which is scheduled to include Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis, Funk, Ardrey and various local leaders and stakeholders in public education will discuss the essential purposes of public schools, past and present, with particular emphasis on those that serve predominantly rural communities.
All three programs will feature brief performances or presentations by students from the host schools.
“The Future of Rural Public Schools” will be part of a series of programs organized by Illinois Humanities titled “‘Continuing Ed.’: Parents and the Future of Illinois Public Schools,” which began in April 2016 and is scheduled to continue through May 2017.
The series also is scheduled to include events in Decatur, Elgin and Chicago.
The programs are designed to give people involved in education at the local level, especially families of students, opportunities to discuss education policy issues that are of national or statewide significance but also impact their own schools and communities.
Illinois Humanities is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, with a mission to strengthen society by fueling inquiry and conversation about the ideas and works that shape our culture.