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Hundreds of Educators Gather in Columbus to Improve Rural Education

Release date: 10/31/2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the featured keynote speaker as nearly 350 education, business and community leaders from 15 states attended the first Rural Education National Forum today.

“In today’s world, rural schools must be more globally connected than ever before and prepare students for a rapidly changing economy at home. They will produce the next generation of leaders in rural America, who will sustain and possibly reinvent their local economies,” said Duncan, who was joined at the conference by 2013 National Teacher of the Year, Jeff Charbonneau, from a rural school district in Washington. “Rural schools can be laboratories of innovation if we work collaboratively to maximize existing resources, establish capacity-building partnerships and leverage powerful new tools for learning. With collaborative investments like the President’s ConnectED proposal to bring broadband to 99 percent of students within five years, the full potential of rural schools is bright with the best days ahead.” 

The Forum is the first rural-specific event co-hosted by the Ohio Department of Education and Battelle for Kids. The purpose is to bring leaders and practitioners together to advance conversations about rural education and long-term prosperity in the region and beyond.

“Ohio is one of four states with the largest rural enrollment numbers, and it’s fitting with all of the innovative work being done in Ohio’s rural districts that we host the event here,” said Jim Mahoney, executive director at Battelle for Kids. “This event showcases some of the most progressive and impactful work being done in rural education today, and it’s a great way to learn from schools and educators who are making a significant impact on their students.”

The Forum is designed to:

  • Connect and strengthen collaborative rural education and prosperity efforts across the country;
  • Highlight powerful instructional and leadership practices in rural districts;
  • Focus strategic conversations about rural opportunities and challenges with national and local experts; and
  • Build a network for collaborative action.

“Children are the hope of America’s rural areas to be competitive, prosperous, well-connected parts our global economy,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard A. Ross said. “I’m proud of the innovative work many of Ohio’s rural educators are doing to make sure our rural graduates will be ready, and I’m excited that they are sharing what they are doing.”

In an effort to encourage regional attendance and leverage other successful rural work, the Ohio Department of Education and Battelle for Kids also partnered with the Kentucky and Tennessee Departments of Education to host this event.


The Ohio Department of Education oversees the state’s public education system, which includes public school districts, joint vocational school districts and charter schools. The department also monitors educational service centers, other regional education providers, early learning and childcare programs, and private schools. The department is governed by the State Board of Education. However, day-to-day administration of the department is the responsibility of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, who is hired by the State Board of Education.

Battelle for Kids is a national, not-for-profit organization that provides strategic counsel and innovative solutions for today’s complex educational improvement challenges. Our mission-driven team of education, technology, communications, and business professionals specializes in creating strategies that advance the development of human capital, the use of strategic measures, the implementation of effective practices, and communication with all stakeholders in schools. Learn more at www.BattelleforKids.org.