Turnaround Plan Targets Rural W.Va. Schools

Friday, December 16, 2011

A coalition that includes a Fortune 500 company, labor unions and nonprofit foundations outlined plans Thursday to spend the next five years focused on rescuing a rural West Virginia school district, one of the country's most downtrodden.

McDowell County, home to about 22,000 residents, is the target of a public-private sector campaign that its organizers say is novel. Called Reconnecting McDowell, it aims to turn around the county's underperforming schools by also tackling such related problems as poverty, substance abuse and crumbling infrastructure.

The American Federation of Teachers assembled the partnership, and union President Randi Weingarten won state Board of Education's approval following a Thursday presentation.

"What we are hoping to do is help that community find the dignity and respect and hope and faith to which it is so entitled," Weingarten said. "This will be a monumental undertaking."

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