If anyone needs a little inspiration here at the end of the year, come with us to Walton, Kansas, and the Walton Rural Life Center, courtesy of Suzanne Perez Tobias at The Wichita Eagle.
Six years ago, the school in Walton was failing. Enrollment barely reached 80 students and every year it seemed like the school wouldn’t last another year. Tobias reports that in 2007 the school re-established itself as a charter school focused on agriculture and learning by completing projects. It is one of only 17 charter schools in Kansas.
The YouTube above is a U.S. Department of Education video describing the Walton school.
Since then its enrollment has more than doubled, and the Walton Rural Life Center – “Fresh eggs for sale,” says a sign near the entrance – has become an example of charter school success.
“Walton is really going above and beyond,” said Jessica Noble, who coordinates charter schools for the Kansas Department of Education.
“Many other schools are doing great things as well. But the model Walton Rural Life Center is using is very unique and forward-thinking.”
The model focuses on agriculture as the basis for learning. And it’s clear from the moment the first bell rings, as children and teachers don boots and gloves for morning chores.
Filling the school is no longer a problem. Families are now reserving spots in the school even before babies are born. The school is trying to raising money to build new classrooms.
The Lure of Gas — The New York Times reports that good paying jobs in the gas and oil fields of Montana are luring kids out of college classroom and into work.
“I just figured, the oil field is here and I’d make the money while I could,” said Tegan Sivertson, 19, who monitors pipelines for a gas company, sometimes working 15-hour days. “I didn’t want to waste the money and go to school when I could make just as much.”
One-third of the graduating class at Sidney High School in Montana went to work instead of joining the military or going to college. That was a record. Meanwhile, attendance at a nearby community college has dropped in half from a few years ago.
Urban Meth — The AP reports that methamphetamine labs are on the rise in cities.
“No question about it — there are more labs in the urban areas,” said Tom Farmer, coordinator of the Tennessee Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Task Force. “I’m seeing car fires from meth in urban areas now, more people getting burned.”
Farmers Fight Back…in Argentina — Argentina’s farming groups have called for a 24-hour halt in the sale of livestock to protest the government’s plans to take over the Agentine Rural Society’s exposition center, the AP reports.
Dock Strike — A strike that could shut down ports on the East and Gulf coasts could affect inland agriculture, AgriPulse reports.
The dockworkers’ labor contract expires December 29.
EPA Chief Leaving — The Environmental Protection Agency’s Lisa Jackson is stepping down after four years. She is the leaving the agency that has been at the center of fights over global warming, new controls on coal fired power plants and the Keystone XL pipeline.
Gun Sales in Colorado — So many people are buying guns in Colorado that the system used to check on would-be owners has been overwhelmed.
The background check system is backed up and the wait list is at least 100 hours long. Before a spurt in gun buying after the shooting deaths in Newton the process took only a couple of hours.