Developing University-School Partnerships to Support Students and Teachers in Rural Schools

Developing University-School Partnerships to Support Students and Teachers in Rural Schools

Cheryl Y. Lambert (Austin Peay State University, USA), Lori Allen (Austin Peay State University, USA) and Lisa Barron (Austin Peay State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2787-0.ch014
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Abstract

This chapter examines the potential for positive impact from partnerships between rural school districts and universities, currently underexplored and overlooked. The challenges facing rural schools offer opportunities for school districts and university partners to develop, organize, and implement strategies for productive collaboration. Examining the rural, educational landscape through the lens of children in poverty, this chapter offers a view of urgency for educational reform. This chapter examines the challenges of high-poverty, rural schools; the rationale for building university-school partnerships with rural schools; insight into building trust with rural school leaders and teachers; and suggestions for developing practical programs which benefit children in rural poverty. Practical suggestions for improving the quality of the educational experiences of children in poverty are included in this chapter.
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Background

Poverty affects education in rural communities in multiple ways. The property value and economic health of a community is directly tied to the school budget (Farmer, 2009; Henry, 2019). Enrollment-based funding presents challenges, as well. With a decline in population in rural areas and limited economic growth, enrollment-based funding impacts the availability of resources, the attainment of high-quality teachers, and the sustainability of programmatic innovation. “The unique needs of rural education are often obscured by their urban and suburban counterparts. One possible reason is that the majority of American students are educated in urban and suburban schools, which may lead policymakers to focus their attention and efforts on improving education where it will have the largest impact” (Center for Public Education, 2018, p. 1). This strategy overlooks a significant number of students residing in rural communities.

Some designators about location are important for understanding the unique characteristics of rural. The National Center for Education Statistics (2015) defines rural with several terms. Table 1 displays the designated descriptors that include city, suburban, town and rural—each of which is subdivided into three subcategories.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Large Suburb: Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with a population of 250,000 or more.

Per-Pupil Expenditures: The expected cost of educating each student in the district; calculated by dividing the school’s operating cost by their total enrollment.

Post-Secondary: Schooling after high school.

Total Revenue: The sum of revenue contributions emerging from local, state, and federal sources.

Small City: Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with a population less than 100,000.

Rural-Fringe: Census-defined rural territory that is less than or equal to 5 miles from an urbanized area, as well as rural territory that is less than or equal to 2.5 miles from an urban cluster.

Rural-Remote: Census-defined rural territory that is more than 25 miles from an urbanized area and is also more than 10 miles from an urban cluster.

SWOT Analysis: Process of determining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of decision-making.

Midsize Suburb: Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with a population less than 250,000 and greater than or equal to 100,000.

Knowledge Economy: Community that supports a job market suited to an educated workforce.

Large City: Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with a population of 250,000 or more.

Total Expenditures: Refers to the sum of current expenditure, non-elementary/secondary expenditure, capital outlay, and interest payments on debts.

Town-Fringe: Territory inside an urban cluster that is less than or equal to 10 miles from an urbanized area.

Midsize City: Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with a population less than 250,000 and greater than or equal to 100,000.

Town-Distant: Territory inside an urban cluster that is more than 10 miles and less than or equal to 35 miles from an urbanized area.

Town-Remote: Territory inside an urban cluster that is more than 35 miles from an urbanized area.

Partnership: Relationship characterized by common goals and shared responsibilities; built on social interaction, mutual trust, and relationships that promote agency within a community.

First-Generation Student: First in the family to attend college.

Small Suburb: Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with a population less than 100,000.

Rural-Distant: Census-defined rural territory that is more than 5 miles but less than or equal to 25 miles from an urbanized area, as well as rural territory that is more than 2.5 miles but less than or equal to 10 miles from an urban cluster.

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