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From the standards they set for becoming a teacher to how they oversee the programs that train the future education workforce, state policymakers can play an important role in teacher preparation. And strengthening that oversight role has been the focus of measures passed in states such as Indiana and Wisconsin in recent years.

Educators and policymakers realize that all of America’s students need a high-quality education to prepare them for college and careers. 2012 promises to be another busy year in  transformational strategies in education. In order to ensure a world-class education, leaders will likely address these top five issues facing states and territories (“the states”) this year.

Although one-third of America’s children attend schools in areas classified as either rural or (small) towns, those schools are faced with numerous hardships compared to their city and suburban counterparts. The funding disparities among rural schools and their wealthier city and suburban counterparts have been significantly reduced, although not altogether erased, in many states during the past 10 to 20 years. Often, change has come as a consequence of legal action challenging state funding formulas that allegedly discriminated against property-poor school districts. Despite obvious gains, however, the struggle for funding equity and adequacy continues to be a paramount issue for rural school advocates in many regions.