To Listen or Lecture, That is the Question
by Debra Kozikowski
The Obama administration’s” Rural Tour” is in full swing and rural advocates hope for more listening than lecturing when it comes to addressing the needs of America’s small towns and rural communities.
In a piece titled Searching for Hamlet: To be or not to be for rural education, Marty Strange and Robin Lambert of Rural School and Community Trust made their concerns clear:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be the only secretary at all nine stops on the tour. That’s too bad. The Agriculture Department has long been viewed as the “rural” department of the federal government. But many rural areas are not dominated by agriculture, and every rural place is affected by all kinds of public policy.
On July 20, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki made a stop in St. John Parish, Louisiana. Health care reform was the subject.
Steph Larsen at the Blog for Rural America wrote:
The current health care system – both delivery and insurance – does not work well for many rural people. It is folly to think that tinkering on the edges of a mammoth health care system that does not work well for rural people is going to address the myriad challenges faced by rural individuals, families and businesses. So, it’s time for Congress and the administration to seriously debate and consider some important reform measures for the benefit of rural America.
The next scheduled stop for the much touted “Rural Tour” is Bethel, Alaska on August 12. Secretary Vilsack, Energy Secretary Chu, Education Secretary Duncan, Interior Secretary Salazar, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Donovan will be addressing rural infrastructure, green jobs, a new energy economy, and climate change.
Five days later, Secretaries Vilsack and Salazar will head for Zanesville, OH for more on green jobs and clean energy. The very next day, on August 17, Secretary Vilsack will be traveling on to meet up with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the picture perfect small town of Hamlet, North Carolina to talk about rural education.
We’ll keep you posted.