I’ve been interested in rural issues for quite some time; part of this comes from living in a state, when classified using various criteria and methods, almost always ends up with a rural designation. Plus, other than Portland, there is no area of the state that has what could be called an “urban” vibe.
Additionally, reading Wendell Berry helped root my philosophy squarely in the camp of the rural, rather than the urban. Other writers, like Edward Abbey and to a smaller degree, Barbara Kingsolver, have helped me to understand that community is fostered by an approach that connects people to the land and ultimately, place.
Having spent quite a bit of time of late in rural western Maine and seeing some entrepreneurial educational models that work, I’ve grown increasingly concerned that the governor’s push towards consolidation and ultimately, the regionalization of the state’s schools, is detrimental to areas, like Franklin County and other rural areas of the state. Overly simplistic and concerned merely with what looks like a winner on paper, as in big=efficient, Maine—already lagging behind many other states in preparing its 21st century workforce—will continue to fall further behind if this consolidation boondoggle flies.
From the blog at Rural Matters, I found this older post (posted in February), which points out some flaws in Governor Baldacci’s plan for consolidation; like the plan has no data to support it—but why should that deter the Guv? Having determined that this will work, irrespective of data, all indicators point out that it’s full speed ahead on the plan, education quality and rural communities be damned!
BTW, successful small school models don’t work well only in rural Maine, either, as this report points out.