ERIC Number: ED411102
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1995-Oct
In the Best Interest of the Children: Community Engagement with Education in Appalachian Kentucky.
Porter, Maureen K.
The systemic reform exemplified by the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA) requires the coupling of top-down state mandates with bottom-up advocacy and leadership. This research on an Eastern Kentucky school district details the dynamics at the district's main high school, as people struggle to build both a community of learners within the school and bridges for meaningful community participation in the school and district. A key focus of the work is the linkages between youth and adult disengagement, which are contextualized within local-local and local-state balances of power. Historically, Appalachia has been viewed as backward and in need of modernization, consequently, curricula are not relevant to Appalachian needs or world view. Alienation and disengagement arise from the resultant pattern of past failure, the expectation of continued failure, and the feeling that schools are no longer a community institution since the demise of local schools. Endemic poverty results in the school system being used as a source of good jobs controlled by the local elite, rather than a source of education for children. Thus, concerns about education are viewed as personal attacks on the power elite which invite retaliation. Pervasive distrust of the State, and "outsiders" in general, reinforces disengagement. Site-based decision making, superintendent screening committees, and state-level legal recourse provided by KERA offer previously disengaged people new opportunities for public leadership, yet change is only acceptable to the extent that it does not define eastern Kentucky cognitive frameworks and social-political relations as "problems" to be solved by "flatlanders." (TD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Kentucky
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Kentucky Education Reform Act 1990