Duncan and Vilsack Discuss Rural Partnerships Before Visit to WI and IA

Secretaries Duncan and Vilsack

Secretaries Duncan and Vilsack. Official Department of Education photo by Leslie Williams.

“As the rural community goes, so goes our nation,” Secretary Arne Duncan said yesterday at the Education Commission of the States’ second “Summit on the Role of Education in Economic Development in Rural America,” in Arlington, Va. Duncan joined Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to address and discuss solutions for overcoming the unique challenges faced by distant and rural communities.

Duncan and Vilsack highlighted the Obama Administration’s commitment to and accomplishments in improving education and the economy in rural America. Recent collaboration between ED and USDA include increasing rural partnerships, supporting rural community colleges, and support for school turnarounds.

Yesterday’s event came one day before a two-day visit to Wisconsin and Iowa, where Secretary Duncan will focus on higher education, elevating the teaching profession, community partnerships and career and technical education. Secretary Vilsack will join Duncan for two events during the trip.

Today, Duncan and Vilsack will be in Platteville, Wis. to host a White House Rural Council event with agriculture teachers from across Wisconsin to discuss the Administration’s RESPECT Project. Watch the event LIVE at 12:25 p.m. CT and join the conversation on Twitter by using the #ruraled hashtag.

On Thursday, Duncan and Vilsack will travel to Waterloo, Iowa, where they’ll be joined by Jay Williams, executive director of the Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers at the U.S. Department of Labor, and local students, faculty, and business leaders, to host a White House Rural Council workforce training roundtable discussion.

Click here for the full schedule of Secretary Duncan’s visit, and click here to receive email updates on rural education.


  1. I am a native of Iowa, and I am glad to see that rural education is getting the attention it deserves. The challenges of providing quality education to smaller schools must be addressed – it’s not fair to deprive students of opportunities just because they live in small towns.

    I think that the Internet has the ability to afford rural students access to educational programs that they otherwise would not have. As a high school student in a small high school, I was able to participate in online classes through a consortium of school districts all across the state. I took AP classes and earned quite a bit of college credit, which helped me save money later on. Each class had an actual teacher so I could always call or email if I was struggling with a topic.

    I have taken online classes as a college student, too, and have been less than impressed with them, so I know that online education does not always deliver on its promises (I suppose the same could be said for classroom learning). However, I think that this is an area that is worth further study.

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