Today, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona held a virtual roundtable conversation with rural students from grades 6-12. The Secretary discussed with participants what it was like to be a rural student during the pandemic as well as hear from them on what the Department can do to support them and improve their learning experience.
After welcoming the students to the roundtable, Secretary Cardona opened the discussion saying that he has been talking to different students from across the country to hear their perspectives and incorporate their experiences into the Department's work.
"Compared to urban schools, rural community schools have a hard time offering a wider variety of classes and extracurriculars," he said. "Our conversation today will help us focus on how we can best provide more opportunities for students in rural communities to get the same educational experience that students in larger schools are getting."
The students shared some of the challenges they faced attending a rural school and also provided feedback on what they hope will improve when they return to school in the fall.
"I hope there's more emphasis on technology, especially now that we know how to use it and how to use the different platforms," said Sheyenne, an 11th grader from North Dakota.
Most of the students agreed with Sheyenne that technology was important when returning to school but having better bandwidth to use the technology was also essential.
"This was extremely beneficial to me as your Secretary of Education," he said. "It's our job to serve you. We listen to what's working, what's not working and what we could do better."
During the conversation, the Secretary also emphasized the components within the American Families Plan that will support rural communities and students. The American Families Plan will provide nearly $193 million for rural education. Based on 2018 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 28 percent of the Nation's public schools were located in rural areas, with 19 percent of all public school students enrolled at these schools.