This is the twelfth session that I am blogging from the 2015 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association. Unfortunately, I had to leave the conference yesterday, but I did want to post an entry for this – and the other entries from today – so that others might contribute their notes from the session. So, this presentation is a part of the following session:
75.054 – Understanding Educational Opportunity in Rural School Districts: An Examination of Community, Demography, and Policy
Mon, April 20, 2:15 to 3:45pm, Swissotel, Lucerne Level, Alpine I
Session Type: Symposium
The purpose of this session is to examine how community, demography, and policy impact educational opportunity in rural contexts. Given that Brown v. Board of Education was a compilation of cases, including some rural, it is important to analyze progress concerning educational opportunity for students currently attending school in rural districts. Papers included in this session range in scope from broad topics such as school funding and school choice to case studies of rural districts seeking to provide equal educational opportunity to students in their respective districts. Additionally, papers presented in this symposium vary in methodology. They range from theoretical to complimentary mixed methods.
Sheneka M. Williams, University of Georgia
School Funding and Rural Districts – Jerry Johnson, University of West Florida; Brian P. Zoellner, University of North Florida
Location, Location, Location: School Choice in the Rural Context – Ain A. Grooms, University of Georgia – Athens
A New Narrative on Rural Education: How One High School Takes on 21st-Century Challenges – Erica Lopatofsky Kryst, The Pennsylvania State University – University Park; Stephen Kotok, The Pennsylvania State University; Annelise Hagedorn
It Takes a Community: Preparing Teachers for Rural African American Early Childhood Students – Janeula M. Burt, Bowie State University; Daniel Boyd, Lowndes County Public Schools
The specific session is:
A New Narrative on Rural Education: How One High School Takes on 21st-Century Challenges
Brockway, Pennsylvania is a small, rural community located approximately 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Just 30 years ago, Brockway was home to a Fortune 500 company, Brockway Glass that provided the community with a steady flow of decent paying manufacturing jobs. Today, like much of rural America, Brockway is a community in transition with a declining population and a changing economy (Schafft, Alter, & Bridger, 2006)). Given the decline in Brockway’s economy, this study examined how high schools in rural communities such as Brockway prepare students for post-secondary options in terms of course offerings and guidance. This study draws on Carr and Kefala’s (2009) framework of “stayers”, “achievers”, “seekers” and “leavers” to analyze how the Brockway district and school officials negotiate the dual challenge of readying students for post-secondary options while also considering how they can make Brockway a desirable place for young professionals to settle. Although similar case studies have been conducted, Brockway provides a unique policy landscape given the presence of the Marcellus Shale gas industry and rural school choice via cyber charter schools – Pennsylvania leads the nation with 16 on-line charters (DeJarnatt, 2014). The research team conducted semi-structured interviews with the guidance counselor, principal, and the district superintendent. Additionally, the team analyzed various documents, economic data from the United States Census, and educational data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Findings suggest that Brockway has been successful in accessing resources, motivating students with a diverse set of interests, and retaining strong faculty. However, some issues of equity exist – mainly through a rigid tracking system in which 40% of students take non-college preparatory courses. Additionally, while Brockway might serve as a model for developing and integrating school and community resources, it should be noted that the district benefits from key local benefactors including the current President pro tempore of the State Senate and a wealthy family with business interests throughout the Northeast.
So if anyone has any notes from this presentation, please feel free to post them here.