ERIC Number: ED389502
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
"What the Red Squirrel Is To the Gray": The Importance of Culture in the Composition of School Boards on Mount Desert Island, Maine.
Lawrence, Barbara Kent
This paper examines the imbalance in representation of native-born Mainers on the school board in Mount Desert Island, Maine. Mount Desert Island is the location of Acadia, the second most visited national park in the United States. In this community, native-born Mainers represent 68 percent of the year-round population, but 80 percent of people serving on the school board are residents as a result of in-migration. The paper identifies cultural themes that have evolved from Maine's history, its position as the eastern "frontier," and exigencies of its climate and economy. An analysis based on acculturation theory and role theory found that cultural differences between native-born Mainers and in-migrants deter local people from competing for leadership roles in their communities. The poor representation of native-born people on local school boards negatively affects the education of their children, and, in effect, those who most need a voice do not have one. The reasons many Maine students do not seek postsecondary education are complex, involving deeply rooted cultural patterns and the perception that opportunities are limited in a rural economy. This paper identifies strengths of rural culture including a strong work ethic, individuality, a strong sense of family and community, and the importance placed on quality of life as opposed to status and materialism. Recommendations are offered for increasing leadership opportunities for native-born Mainers. Appendices include graphs illustrating percentages of native-born Mainers in the population and on the school board, percentage of town budget spent on education, and percentage of households with children. (LP)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Maine (Mount Desert Island); Newcomers; Rural Culture
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Rural Education Association (Salt Lake City, UT, October 1995).