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ERIC Number: ED527452
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 194
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1240-8369-8
Rural Schools and Communities: How Globalization Influences Rural School and Community Collaboration
Butler, Thomas
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
This study examined how a rural school district and the communities in which the district belonged collaborated on a community development initiative. This dissertation examined the opportunities and constraints rural communities are facing and the role that a rural school system could play in increasing social and economic sustainability of rural communities. The questions guiding this research were: (1) what are the challenges and opportunities of rural community-school collaboration in a community development initiative? (2) what are the implications of this case study for rural community and school collaboration in a globalized economy? To address these questions, a single site case study was conducted. The research focused on a small, rural school district and the community as they collaborated on a community development initiative. The initiative centered on an entrepreneur center that the school district proposed for its students and the community. Interviews with eighteen people, and observations in three public meetings provided the data for this study. This study also included document analysis from reports presented to the committee formed by the school district to explore the entrepreneur center, as well as historical newspapers to gain a historical context for the study. One important aspect to this study is the role of the researcher in this study. The researcher was a participant observer in the events studied which afforded more insight into the events studied. A review of the literature focusing on rural schools, and rural communities in the United States provided context for the events in this study. The entrepreneur center never became a reality for the school district or the community. The committee charged with exploring the feasibility of the entrepreneur center held meetings in good faith with the community, but attendance at the meetings decreased over the period of time in which this study was conducted. Although the next paragraph will explore the more subtle explanations for these failures, the most obvious reason for the failure of this initiative was the shift from discussing the possibilities of the entrepreneur center to one of school consolidation. The shift in focus occurred when the school's architectural firm conducted a feasibility study for the project and focused on the efficient use of the school district's physical plant, not on the ideals and hopes for the entrepreneur center. Based on the interviews, observations of the committee meetings, and document analysis, the following insights were revealed: (1) Rural community members are unsure how to articulate and make sense of their positive individual experiences within the community versus their negative perceptions of the community overall. (2) There must be meaningful participation by the public in the development and the process of a community collaborative effort in order for it to succeed. People want to see the results of their participation as well as how their participation changed the course of the initiative. (3) The school system can act as a bridge to connect rural schools and communities thus alleviating some of the changes in social, economic, and educational changes resulting form neoliberalism and globalization. This involves rural schools adopting a place-based curriculum that encourages a critical pedagogy of place and becoming an incubator for community development initiatives. (4) Smaller successes occurred in this study when individual principals implemented parts of the entrepreneur center in their own schools. This indicated the reasonableness of the foundation of the entrepreneur center, as well as the strength of place-based education. The findings in this study suggest how rural schools and communities might collaborate in a globalized society. In particular, rural educators and the school system, must recognize their new role in the community. They serve an important function of bridging two worlds; one that is vanishing (stable social structures) and one that is threatening to overtake rural schools and communities (liquid, unstable social structures). One way this can be accomplished is by rural school districts encouraging an appreciation of place by adopting curriculum (place-based) that will challenge rural students to take up issues that are important to people in their communities. In fact, rural educators can serve as a "coupler" between those members of society that have very little connection to a "place," and those community members that are more "place bound." Further research is needed to explore other methods of collaboration that can serve the same purpose of bridging the gap between the world of stable social structures and the threats to that stability. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A