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Peabody Journal of Education, Volume 91, Issue 1, 2016

Rural Futures: Supporting Youth Aspirations and Sustaining the Promise of Public Education

Introduction: Rural Aspirations, Rural Futures: From "Problem" to Possibility

Mara Casey Tieken, Bates College
Donna M. San Antonio, Lesley University

This issue of the Peabody Journal of Education considers how rural schools grapple with the unique challenges they face in assisting students' transitioning to life after high school. Seizing the opportunity to add to the discussion which policymakers and policy organizations have begun recently, the authors contribute valuable perspectives and research on rural youth transitions into adulthood. Their articles counters stereotypes that dismiss rural schools as "back-water", positing that the future of rural communities, and very likely the nation, depends on the trajectory of rural young people's futures.

While the authors do incorporate quantitative data in their discussion, the issue principally approaches the topic from psychological and sociocultural standpoints. This approach allows their articles to confront the complexity that rural youth and their communities face in mapping out their futures. They confront questions about the effects of economic, environmental, demographic and social change on rural schools; the thought processes of youth and how schools help shape them; what factors influence the aspirations of rural students' future plans; and what role schools play in influencing the vitality of their communities.

CONTENT OF THIS ISSUE
The issue brings together six articles that address different facets of these questions. Kai A. Schafft in "Rural Education as Rural Development: Understanding the Rural School-Community Well-Being Linkage in a 21st Century Policy Context" addresses the fact that, despite the fact that the vast majority of schools in the U.S. are non-metropolitan, policy conversations and resulting policies tend to focus on urban schools, diminishing or forgetting about the unique circumstances of non-urban schools. He points out that such policies also have a profound effect not just on those schools but the vitality of the community as a whole, since schools tend to be one of the most significant institutions, if not the life-blood, of rural communities. While some initiatives do address the needs of rural schools, policies should better embrace the connection of schools and their communities in ways that support how schools and communities can work together toward a better rural future, rather than focusing primarily on the activity of youth as global citizens.

Erin Gallay, Lisa Marckini-Polk, Brandon Schroeder, and Constance Flanagan look at a mixed-methods study of a school-community partnership that involves students in environmental stewardship activities. The article discusses how these activities can help connect students to their local environment in a meaningful way.

Matthew J. Irvin, Soo-yong Byun, Judith L. Meece, Karla S. Reed and Thomas W. Farmer zero in on the aspirations of minority students in rural areas and how their school experiences, which tend to be different from their white counterparts, shape their opportunity to pursue their educational aspirations. Their piece recognizes that despite the uniformity of aspirations across the races, opportunities unfortunately do vary according to race and location. They make policy recommendations to ameliorate these disparities.

Mara Tieken provides an ethnographic study concerned with how adults lead rural students through the important questions of whether and where to attend college. She also explores the family dynamics that factor into a student's post-secondary plans. She writes that while parental support of higher education is increasing, many rural parents hesitate to encourage their students to leave the rural community and/or on attend college (especially far away). By contrast, however, she finds that college or guidance counselors and school programming more uniformly encourage students to pursue higher education.

Karen T. Van Gundy, Cesar J. Rebellon, Eleanor M. Jaffee, Nena F. Stracuzzi, Erin Hiley Sharp and Corinna Jenkins Tucker examine the role of school connectedness in two student cohorts' perceived job prospects during both groups' 7th and 11th grade years. They discovered that even through economic changes, developmental transitions after high school and the security provided by these students' connection to school helped fuel their opinions about their future employment prospects in their communities.

Donna M. San Antonio's article explores in-depth the thoughts and emotions that rural students express about their aspirations throughout their adolescent years and young adult lives. By visiting with the same students once in high school and again in their mid-twenties, she tracks their myriad life experiences. These happenings add dimension to the otherwise black and white depiction of the choice that rural students face after high school—whether to stay in their rural homes or to depart for "the big city." The stories woven through her analysis tap into the identity exploration, sense of instability and uncertainty, and optimism felt by the students who have faced this choice.

Lastly, Michael Corbett concludes the issue with a commentary on how the current dialogue of neoliberal education, anchored in individual-centered and global thinking, would benefit from the discussion these articles provide. He calls on researchers to challenge their sense of typical binaries and to explore relationships that connect people to their environment and the country to the city.

REFERENCES

Alliance for Excellent Education. (2010). Current challenges and opportunities in preparing rural high school students for success in college and careers: What federal policymakers need to know. Washington DC: Author.

Ash, K. (2014). Rural charter schools face special challenges. Education Week, 33(30). Retrieved from http://www. edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/05/07/30rural ep.h33.html?r=554281577&preview=1

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice- Hall.

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: Freeman.
Coladarci, T. (2007). Improving the yield of rural education research: An editor’s swan song. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 22(3). Retrieved from http://jrre.vmhost.psu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/22-3.pdf

Elder, G. H. (1998). The life course as developmental theory. Child Development, 69, 1–12.

Eppley, K. (2009). Rural schools and the highly qualified teacher provision of No Child Left Behind: A critical policy analysis. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 24(4). Retrieved from http://jrre.psu.edu/articles/24-4.pdf

Johnson, J., & Strange, M. (2007). Why rural matters 2007: The realities of rural education growth. Washington, DC:

Rural School and Community Trust. Johnson, K. M. (2006). Demographic trends in rural and small town America. Durham, NH: Carsey Institute.

Johnson, K. M. (2012). Rural demographic change in the new century: Slower growth, increased diversity (Issue Brief No. 44). Retrieved from http://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1158&context=carsey

Johnson, K. M. (2013). Demographic trends in nonmetropolitan America: Implications for land use development and conservation. Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, 15, 31–50.

Kannapel, P., & DeYoung, A. (1999). The rural school problem in 1999: A review and critique of the literature. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 15(2), 67–79.

National Education Association. (2012). Our position and actions on rural schools. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/ home/17872.htm

Richardson, J. (2011). The editor’s note: On the edge, in the center. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(6), 1.

Strange, M. (2011). Finding fairness for rural students. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(6), 8–15.
Strange, M., Johnson, J., Showalter, D., & Klein, R. (2012). Why rural matters 2011–12: The condition of rural education n the 50 states. Washington, DC: Rural School and Community Trust Policy Program.
Tieken, M. C. (2014). Why rural schools matter. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Tyack, D. (1974). One best system: A history of American urban education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. White, J. (2011). Obama administration establishes White House Rural Council to strengthen rural communities. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/obama-administration-establishes-white-house- rural- council- strengthen- rural- comm 


CONTENTS

Introduction

Rural Aspirations, Rural Futures: From “Problem” to Possibility
Mara Casey Tieken and Donna M. San Antonio
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 2: pages 131-136.

Rural Education As Rural Development: Understanding the Rural School-Community Well-Being Linkage in a 21st-Century Policy Context
Kai A. Schafft
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 2: pages 137-154. 

Place-Based Stewardship Education: Nurturing Aspirations to Protect the Rural Commons
Erin Gallay, Lisa Marckini-Polk, Brandon Schroeder, and Constance Flanagan
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 2: pages 155-175. 

School Characteristics and Experiences of African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American Youth in Rural Communities: Relation to Educational Aspirations
Matthew J. Irvin, Soo-yong Byun, Judith L. Meece, Karla S. Reed, and Thomas W. Farmer
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 2: pages 176-202. 

College Talk and the Rural Economy: Shaping the Education Aspirations of Rural, First-Generation Students
Mara Casey Tieken
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 2: pages 203-223. 

Perceived Local Job Prospects and School Connectedness in a Struggling Rural Economy: A Life-Course Perspective
Karen T. Van Gundy, Cesar J. Rebellon, Eleanor M. Jaffee, Nena F. Stracuzzi, Erin Hiley Sharp and Corinna Jenkins Tucker
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 2: pages 224-245. 

The Complex Decision-Making Processes of Rural Emerging Adults: Counseling Beyond Dualism
Donna M. San Antonio
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 2: pages 246-269. 

Rural Futures: Development, Aspirations, Mobilities, Place and Education
Michael Corbett
Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 91, No. 2: pages 270-282.


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