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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is spearheading the formation of a caucus that would help address the educational needs of rural areas.

In a Jan. 17 letter to Senate colleagues, Enzi and caucus co-chairpersons Senators John Edwards, D-N.C., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., invited all senators to join the Rural Education Caucus, an organization that would be focused on advancing the educational interests of rural schools and districts.

"The passage and ongoing implementation of the landmark No Child Left Behind Act has provided a unique opportunity to examine the challenges involved in providing a high quality education to rural areas," the senators wrote. "It is our hope that the Rural Education Caucus will assist interested Members of Congress in more effectively addressing areas of educational need in rural communities."

Enzi, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee said the caucus would sponsor briefings, facilitate communication between the Department of Education and other organizations interested in rural education, and attempt to advance a legislative agenda that benefits rural communities, educators and students.

Enzi said the caucus plans to coordinate its efforts with the Congressional Rural Caucus in the House.

A copy of the letter follows:

January 17, 2003

Dear Colleague:

As the founding Members of the Rural Education Caucus we would like to invite you to become a Member of this new organization focused on the important goal of advancing the educational interests of rural schools and districts.

The passage and ongoing implementation of the landmark No Child Left Behind Act has provided a unique opportunity to examine the challenges involved in providing a high quality education in rural areas. In light of the upcoming reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Higher Education Act (HEA) it is our hope that the Rural Education Caucus will assist interested Members of Congress in more effectively addressing areas of educational need in rural communities.

The Rural Education Caucus will sponsor briefings, facilitate communication between the Department of Education and other organizations interested in rural education, and attempt to advance a legislative agenda that benefits rural communities, educators and students. This organization will not only inform Members about the importance of rural education, but will also focus its energies and educational tools on staff.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts about the Rural Education Caucus and hope you will consider becoming a Member. If you are interested in becoming a Member, or need more information, please contact Amanda Farris in Senator Enzi's office at 202-224-3424 by February 7, 2003.

Sincerely,



Michael B. Enzi
United States Senator

Susan Collins
United States Senator

John Edwards
United States Senator
Kent Conrad
United States Senator