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POLSC431: Public Policy Process

Unit 9: Public Policy in Rural Areas of America   Delivering public services to rural areas of this country offers a unique set of challenges, largely because the sparse population raises the cost associated with serving each individual resident.  Basic services ranging from school busing to postal carrying simply cost the government more to supply in rural areas than they do in more densely populated parts of the country, but these citizens deserve the same access to public resources as their more urbanized neighbors.  This is even more true in certain policy areas, such as education, where local communities generally pay the majority of the costs because rural communities tend to be among the poorest in the country, with Native American reservations in South Dakota, Appalachian counties in West Virginia, and former plantations of areas of Alabama regularly competing for the title of the most impoverished area of the United States.  This lack of economic resources makes it especially difficult for rural communities to pay for such special services as in-class aides for special needs student, nutrition programs, and prenatal care, which limit the possibilities of rural residents.
 
One reason why rural areas have lagged behind much of the rest of the country economically is because of the historical lack of industrial development in these places, with clothing mills and paper producers in North Carolina the most common types of factories found outside urban America.  However, in the last several decades, a variety of corporations, especially automobile companies, have relocated factories to rural areas in search of big local tax breaks and cheaper nonunionized labor, while high-tech industries in places such as Texas have resulted in former farmland being turned into computer company campuses.  While agriculture continues to constitute the economic backbone of rural America, family farms that had been passed down from one generation to another have increasingly been replaced by huge corporate enterprises, resulting in an even smaller segment of America’s workforce being actively employed as farmers.
 
With employment opportunities in rural areas limited, many residents have sought to migrate to other parts of the country, providing an ever increasing brain drain in places that can least afford to lose their most capable young workers.  This has led to an increased focus on the part of policymakers on encouraging economic development in rural areas, which would permit the people who call those places home to pursue more diverse educational and career opportunities than are currently available.  The incredible rate of technological change that has taken place over the last several decades has made it possible for rural areas to have access to enormous online libraries and companies to relocate to the countryside while remaining in communication with the rest of the world through wireless high-speed Internet and cell phone networks.  Only time will tell how rural communities will make use of these new technologies to change and grow, but it seems certain that government will play a role in this process through public policy.

Unit 9 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 9.25 hours to complete. 

☐    Subunit 9.1: 4.25 hours

☐    Subunit 9.1.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 9.1.2: 2.25 hours

☐    Subunit 9.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 9.3: 2  hours 

Unit9 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify vital issues and specific areas of concern for contemporary American policymakers within the broad field of American rural policy.
  • Identify key actors and agencies involved in rural policy formulation.
  • Describe various decision frameworks used by policymakers in identifying, formulating, implementing, budgeting, and evaluating rural policy.
  • Identify key debates in contemporary rural policy as well as the issues at stake and the arguments advanced by each side of the debate.
  • Identify the unique challenges of rural public policymaking.
  • Explain the context, evolution, and linkages between certain rural policies and within the broader context of American political history.

9.1 Costs: Paying for Basic Services and Special Needs Programs in Rural America   9.1.1 Paying for Basic Services   - Lecture: Learner.org: Rural Communities: Legacy & Change: Episode 9: “The Basics” and Episode 11: “Capacity to Care” Links: Learner.org: Rural Communities: Legacy & Change: Episode 9: “The Basics” (Adobe Flash) and Episode 11: “Capacity to Care” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the links above, and select the VoD icon next to each episode to watch it (approximately 58 minutes per video).  These videos discuss the costs of providing basic services in rural areas.
 
Viewing these videos should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.1.2 Paying for Special Services   - Reading: Public Policy Institute of California: Stephen Lipscomb: “Students with Disabilities and California’s Special Education Program” Link: Public Policy Institute of California: Stephen Lipscomb: “Students with Disabilities and California’s Special Education Program” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and then select the “Full Report” link to read this entire PDF (45 pages) about statewide special education policy in California.
 
This reading should take approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.2 Growth and Development: Economic Issues in Contemporary Rural America   9.2.1 Agriculture and Industry in Rural America   - Lecture: Learner.org: Rural Communities: Legacy & Change: Episode 2: “Economic Base” and Episode 10: “The Will to Grow” Links: Learner.org: Rural Communities: Legacy & Change: Episode 2: “Economic Base” (Adobe Flash) and Episode 10: “The Will to Grow” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the links above, and select the VoD icon next to each episode to watch it (approximately 58 minutes per video).  These videos discuss economic issues in rural America.
 
Viewing these videos should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.2.2 Ranching and Forestry in Rural America   - Reading: Colorado Institute of Public Policy: Tony Cheng, Charles E. Davis, Mark T. Fiege, and Louis E. Swanson: “Forest and Rangeland Management in the Intermountain West: Emerging Opportunities for Collaboration” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

[Submit Materials](/contribute/)

9.3 Crises and Opportunities: Policy Approaches to the Future of Rural America   - Lecture: Learner.org: Rural Communities: Legacy & Change: Episode 12: “Communities on the Move” and Episode 13: “What’s Next” Links: Learner.org: Rural Communities: Legacy & Change: Episode 12: “Communities on the Move” (Adobe Flash) and Episode 13: “What’s Next” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the links above, and select the VoD icon next to each episode to watch it (approximately 58 minutes per video).  These videos discuss population movement away from rural areas and related changes to those communities.
 
Viewing these videos should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
  
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.