U.S. Congressman Thompson Visits Rural Center
by Joe Savrock (August 2009)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) paid a visit to the College of Education August 11 and received an overview of ongoing research and outreach efforts at the Center on Rural Education and Communities (CREC).
Thompson and members of his staff met with Kai Schafft, the Center’s director, and Jacqueline Edmondson, associate dean for undergraduate and graduate studies. Thompson represents Pennsylvania's 5th Congressional District.
“Congressman Thompson serves one of the largest rural districts in the nation and he clearly understands the need for policies to serve rural people,” said Edmondson, who serves as associate editor of the Journal of Research in Rural Education, housed within CREC.
Schafft noted that, “The congressman was interested in learning more about our Rural Center—what we do and what resources we provide by way of research and outreach regarding the well-being of rural schools and communities.
“We had a very productive conversation and I was extremely pleased that the congressman reached out to our Center,” continued Schafft. “He expressed particular interest in being able to rely on the Center as a source of research-based information on rural education and communities.”
Thompson had a particular eye on the policy-relevant work being done at CREC and examined the extent to which the Center serves as a clearinghouse of information and resources related to rural issues. CREC conducts and supports research and outreach activities that address rural education and community-related issues in Pennsylvania, the nation, and the world.
“As a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, Congressman Thompson will be involved in important upcoming discussions concerning the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” said Edmondson. “We are pleased that he considers the College of Education as a resource and we look forward to continued connections with his office.”
Thompson indicated that he may tap Schafft and other CREC affiliates to provide congressional testimony on future issues that affect rural schools.
Schafft also showed Thompson the connection between CREC and the research efforts of the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Mid-Atlantic, also housed in the College of Education. The national REL initiative consists of ten regional centers under the auspices of the Institute of Education Sciences, an arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Within its five-state region, REL Mid-Atlantic serves a large number of rural school districts.
Thompson learned that one of the public schools in his district was honored last year with an award co-sponsored by CREC and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools. St. Marys Middle School received the 2008 Building Community through Rural Education Award for developing a regional Environmental Learning Center to serve its students—as well as students from neighboring schools—while spearheading a school-led effort to protect the local environment. The project consists of an outdoor classroom, a greenhouse complex, a trout nursery, nature trails, and alternative energy sources, including a wind turbine and solar panels.