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We are a national nonprofit focused on dramatically changing education and life outcomes for underserved children.

With permission from Democracy Prep Public Schools

We Have Six Service Areas

Kelly Robson
Phillip Burgoyne-Allen
Juliet Squire
Jeff Schulz

Fourteen percent of the nation’s population lives in rural communities, and one in five K-12 students attends a rural school — a substantial proportion of America’s school population. Despite increased attention from the national education policy community in recent years, too many rural communities and schools continue to struggle to provide their students with quality educational opportunities. Common approaches to education reform that may work in urban communities often fail to take into account the unique assets and challenges facing rural schools.

"Wide-Open Spaces: Schooling in Rural America Today” provides education policymakers with a factbase on America’s rural schools and communities: the economic and academic challenges they face, their unique assets, and opportunities for improvement. This resource highlights some of the challenges facing schools and students, including limited economic opportunity, poor access to healthcare, and social challenges like drug addiction. It also provides an overview of available data on student outcomes, including National Assessment of Educational Progress data and graduation rates. These data reveal that while rural students appear to be doing better on average than students in some other geographies, there are real gaps among subgroups and barriers to postsecondary opportunities that hinder many rural students from achieving their full academic potential.

Even so, rural communities’ assets provide opportunities to create and sustain meaningful change. Compared with other geographies, rural communities tend to place high value on civic and community engagement and support tight-knit networks among residents. Community members tend to have a deep sense of and commitment to place that dates back generations. And at a state and national level, rural communities represent a powerful political voice.

"Wide-Open Spaces: Schooling in Rural America Today"
aims to equip advocates, decision-makers, and other stakeholders with a shared understanding of rural education to generate a more accurate and nuanced policy response.

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Blog Post

Bellwether Education Partners was just chosen as one of the 50 best places to work (find us on page 93) in the Washington, D.C. area by Washingtonian, the iconic lifestyle magazine. The publication releases its Great Places to Work list every two years and has, in the past, highlighted D.C.-based companies like NASA, Vox Media, […]

Chad Aldeman

In "Social Security, Teacher Pensions, and the ‘Qualified’ Retirement Plan Test," Aldeman outlines the history of Social Security benefits in the public sector, describes the current rule and how it is intended to work, and then shows its limitations. As a concrete example, he analyzes the retirement plans covering approximately 1.2 million active public school teachers in the 15 states and the District of Columbia that do not offer universal Social Security coverage for teachers. The report concludes with suggestions about how to protect these workers going forward.

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Mary K. Wells
Tresha Francis Ward

Autonomous District Schools: Lessons From the Field on a Promising Strategy" summarizes Bellwether’s work with San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) over the past 18 months. The district has authorized three networks of autonomous district schools using a law that supports and incentivizes the creation of these schools. Bellwether provided program design support, strategic advice, and capacity building to SAISD’s Network Principal Initiative, and this deck offers an overview of the initiative and the lessons we learned about the launch of autonomous district schools.

This slide deck is accompanied by a tool kit, “Autonomous District Schools: Tools for Planning and Launching," which offers concrete resources for leaders interested in planning an autonomous school or network.

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