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WV Sen. Rockefeller wants to strengthen rural schools

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Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has reintroduced legislation that would push the federal government to focus on strengthening rural schools.

Rockefeller joined with Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to reintroduce the legislation to create an Office of Rural Education Policy within the U.S. Department of Education.

The Office of Rural Education Policy Act would create this designated office to advise the secretary of education on the needs of rural schools and to make sure the department considers the effect its policies could have on education in rural America. The office would coordinate with the department's rural education activities and recommend topics for study to the Institute of Education Sciences. The bill also requires an annual report to Congress on the condition of rural education.

The Office of Rural Education Policy mirrors the Office of Rural Health Policy within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Rockefeller worked to create that office in the late 1980s to address the health challenges and needs of rural communities.

The bill, S 1096, was introduced June 3 and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education, Labor and Pensions. It was originally introduced in May 2011, but died in committee.