Hear From Expert Dr. Robert Kronick

How Community Schools Are Strengthening “Rurban” Areas

By Brittany Haynes on Aug 19, 2019
The involvement of universities and community schools with their surrounding neighborhoods is crucial to the success of these institutions, their students, and the well-being of the community at large. These strategic partnerships are essential for all participants to experience the benefits of civic engagement in these schools, which is particularly pertinent to the case of higher education institutions. From service learning to other community-rooted activities, researchers strive to learn more about the connections and benefits between schools and their communities.

In order to better provide the latest research surrounding community schools and higher education engagement with their respective communities, Dr. Robert Kronick, professor at the University of Tennessee, USA, and editor of the publication Emerging Perspectives on Community Schools and the Engaged University, provides further insight into his publication and the area of educational research in the IGI Global interview below.

What inspired you to pursue research activities in education?

Research in education provides the basis for research in fields from art to zoology. Whether one researches Van Gogh or Von Bertalanffy, it all adds to our collective understanding and appreciation of the world. Personally, I am always looking at, and analyzing human behavior. I am especially interested in challenged children’s behaviors in families, schools, neighborhoods, and communities. How individuals think, feel, and act is important in understanding human behavior in many settings, but especially in schools. I favor qualitative research methods that give voice to students, teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders. Lessening or eliminating the opportunity gap and creating opportunities for social justice are goals of my research. The avenue is the University Assisted Community School (UACS), which I had a small role in developing. I hope that Emerging Perspectives on Community Schools and the Engaged University, graciously published by IGI Global, will further our research and the research of others.

Why are your respective areas of research important to the field at large?

Community schools rest on the axiom that where there are troubled schools, there are troubled communities and where there are troubled communities, there are troubled schools. This axiom clearly leads to a systemic approach to issues within the field of education. By studying and creating university-assisted schools, the resources of the university can be brought to bear on K-12 education. I am suggesting that universities, not simply colleges of education, become involved in education and, by extension, schools. This holistic approach also facilitates studying universities and their role in education. This helps develop a philosophy of universities as anchor institutions that are permanent and work with the community, which is important to those working with broad educational concerns.

In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of your research to its community of users?

I have been doing research and directing a university-assisted community school through teaching, research, and service for twenty years. I have done in-services for schools, school systems and universities, especially the University of Pennsylvania, the Coalition of Community Schools, and The Society for Engaged Scholarship. I think of myself as a scholar activist, where I bring my research to people and places who can use the research findings. One example is my research for school-based programs rather than school-linked programs to be used. School-based programming is more efficient than school linked. Second, I developed a community school model of systems, collaboration, and prevention. This model has worked well for ten years. My research has delineated differences, strengths, and weaknesses of community schools, charter schools, and vouchers. The current text cogently argues for the superiority of community schools for meeting the curricular and non-curricular needs of children and families.

What are the future directions of your research areas?

My research has followed a trajectory of focusing on corrections including mental health, at-risk youth, and community schools. I am keenly interested in non-curricular issues that affect the lives of children and families who live in urban, rural, suburban, and what I call “rurban” areas. Poverty is a central theme of these research interests. I am at the very beginning of developing a university- assisted community school in a rural town of 597 people and a K-12 school. At this time, research in education is especially important because of the political climate we are in. Currently, I am writing on the contributions of literature, art, photography, and music to social science theory and interventions in social programs. Some contributors are James Agee and Walker Evans (literature and photography), Colson Whitehead (fiction), Cacey Cep (non-fiction), Jacob Lawrence (art), and Meek Mill (music). The future of research in education is to infinity and beyond.

What are some other evolving research trends you have observed in your industry/field over the past several months and what would you say are some of the innovative research directions you foresee in the future? How do you feel your publication sets the pace for these innovations?

Innovations – our IGI Global book brings together a disparate group of scholar activists. Some know each other and they work intimately – others are learning of each other for the first time. I believe opening intellectual silos in the field of education is one of the most important innovations in the first twenty percent of the 21st Century. Emerging Perspectives on Community Schools and the Engaged University has the potential to be a force in this critically important area. Research methods, whether quantitative or qualitative, are continuously emerging, especially in the quantitative area. At the end of the day, however, interpretation and assessment of findings is an important process for the field of education. Current interventions and social policies should emerge from the process.
IGI Global would like to thank Dr. Kronick for sharing his research on education regarding community engagement. For more information about this research, view the publication here.
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