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American Teacher
March/April 2012

 

Feature Story
Reconnecting McDowell

AFT spearheads landmark partnership to turn around Appalachian community.

ONCE HOME TO MORE than 120,000 Americans, McDowell County, W.Va., has seen its population dwindle to barely 22,000. The exodus started in the 1960s, when the coal industry began pulling out of the county, taking away well-paying jobs.

Today, the county is one of the nation's poorest. Unemployment is widespread. Transportation is difficult in the mountainous, flood-prone terrain, which makes access to healthcare, public services and recreation beyond the reach of many residents. McDowell consistently ranks at or near the bottom of West Virginia counties in measures of health, income and education—problems that often show up in schools and undercut efforts to provide students with an excellent education.

The school system, for example, typically has trouble recruiting and keeping excellent teachers because there is no available housing. Transportation problems compromise opportunities for after-school and summer enrichment programs; boredom is a fact of life for students and helps fuel problems like drug abuse.

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About American Teacher

American Teacher covers a wide range of activities of interest to preK-12 educators. It includes classroom resources and profiles of members, as well as reports on education reform efforts, teachers' rights, union organizing, effective teaching techniques and other education and labor issues. American Teacher is published six times a year and is mailed to all preK-12 educators who are members of the AFT as a benefit of membership. Single copies are free on request. Questions, comments and inquiries about American Teacher should be sent to its managing editor Roger Glass.  
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Also from this Issue:

Union-backed group given green light to authorize charter schools

Minneapolis local uses AFT Innovation Fund grant to support its proposal.

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