Challenges and Sustainability Practices of Frontier Schools in Montana

Claudette Morton, Hobart L. Harmon

Abstract


This article reports the findings of a study commissioned by the Montana Small Schools Alliance to explore the challenges and sustainability practices of frontier schools. A Montana frontier school is defined as a school district with 200 or fewer students with its attendant community located in a county with five or fewer people per square mile. The researchers surveyed teachers, administrators, and school board chairs in 141 frontier school districts and held six focus groups of community members. The top five most important challenges noted by school district personnel were low student enrollment, inadequate financial resources, unrealistic federal expectations, academically unmotivated students, and mixed grade levels of students in the classroom. School sustainability practices included operating mixed-age or multi-grade classrooms and using school facilities to serve critical community functions. Lay citizens, compared to persons employed by the school district, were more likely to view the school as necessary for maintaining a way of life associated with agriculture and related enterprises. Twelve research questions are offered for future research on issues of frontier schools.

References


Allen, D. M., & Sloan, J. E. (2005).Adequacy-based funding for small, isolated schools: An approach for Maine. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the New England Educational Research Organization, Northampton, Massachusetts, April 2005. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED509454)

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. Retrieved from http://www.all4ed.org/files/RuralHSReportChallengesOpps.pdf

Bass, G. R. (1988). Financing for small schools: A study. Rural Educator, 9(2), 9-14.

Beaulieu, L., & Gibbs, R. (2005). The role of education: Promoting the economic and social vitality of rural America. Mississippi State, MS: Southern Rural Development Center.

Beeson, E. (Ed.). (2002). Rural policy matters: A newsletter of rural school & community action. Rural Policy Matters, 4(4), 1-12.

Bohrson, R. G., & Gann, E. L. (1963). Programs for those rural schools which are necessarily existent. Washington, DC: United States Department of Health, Education & Welfare, Office of Education, National Committee for Children and Youth. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED012644)

Broton, K., Mueller, D., Schultz, J. L., & Gaona, M. (April, 2009). Strategies for rural Minnesota school districts: A literature review. St. Paul, MN: Wilder Research.

Brown, D.L., & Swanson, L.E. (2003). Challenges for rural America in the twenty-first century. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Celis, W. (2002).Battle rock: The struggle over a one-room school in America's vanishing west. New York: Public Affairs. (ERIC Documents Reproduction Service No. ED 470471)

Chance, E., & Cummins, C. (1998, Winter). School/community survival: Successful strategies used in rural school district consolidations. Rural Educator, 20(2), 1-7.

DeYoung, A. J. (1987). The status of American rural educational research: An integrated review and commentary. Review of Educational Research, 57(2), 123-48.

DeYoung, A. J. (Ed.). (1991). Rural education issues and practice. New York: Garland.

DeYoung, A. J. (1995). The life and death of a rural American high school: Farewell little Kanawha. New York: Garland.

Fuller, W. (1982). The old country school: The story of rural education in the Middle West.Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gaither, M. (2003). American educational history revisited. New York: Teachers College Press.

Gjelten, T. (1982). Staples, Minnesota: Improving the schools to save the town. In P. Nachtigal (Ed.), Rural education: In search of a better way (pp. 247-265). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Gjelten, T., & Nachtigal, P. (1979). Improving rural education: Past efforts, some ideas for the future. Denver, CO: Educational Commission of the States; Washington, DC: Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education, Bureau of Elementary and Secondary Education; Washington, DC: Department of Agriculture; Washington, DC: National Institute of Education, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Services No. ED 172979)

Harmon, H.L. (2003). Rural education. In J. W. Guthrie (Ed.), Encyclopedia of education (2nd ed., pp. 2083-2090). NY: Macmillan Reference.

Harmon, H. L., & Schafft, K. A. ( 2009). Rural school leadership for collaborative community development. The Rural Educator, 30(3), 4-9.

Howley, C. B., & Harmon, H. L. (2000a). K-12 unit schooling in rural America: A first description. The Rural Educator, 22(1), 10-18

Howley, C. B., & Harmon, H. L. (2000b).Community as tacit curriculum: A case study of Oneida high school, Oneida, Tennessee. In C.B. Howley & H. L. Harmon (Eds.), Small high school that flourish: Rural context, case studies, and resources (pp. 61-88). Charleston, WV: AEL,.

Howley, C., Johnson, J., & Petrie, J. (2011). Consolidation of schools and districts: What the research says and what it means. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.

Kauffman, B. (June 30, 2009).In one room, many advantages. Wall Street Journal, p. 13A. Retrieved May 31, 2011, from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124631953965570969.html

Kliewer, L. (March, 2001). Small, rural schools face uncertain future due to predictions of declining enrollment. Firstline Midwest, 3(3), 4. Lombard, IL: Midwestern Office of the Council of State Governments. Retrieved May 9, 2011 from http://www.csg.org/knowledgecenter/docs/flmw-0103.pdf

Lyson, T. (2002, Winter). What does a school mean to a community? Assessing the social and economic benefits of schools to rural villages in New York. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 17(3), 131-137.

McCulloch, L. (2008). Directory of Montana Schools, 2008-2009. Helena, MT: Office of Public Instruction.

Miller, B. (1993, Fall). Rural distress and survival: The schools and the importance of “community.” Journal of Research in Rural Education, 9(2), 84-103.

Montana Department of Commerce.(2008, July).Data maps. Helena, MT: Census and Economic Information Center, Montana Department of Commerce.

National Center for Frontier Communities. (2007). Developing the consensus definition. Ojo Sarco, NM: National Center for Frontier Communities.

Post, D., & Stambach, A. (1999). District consolidation and school closure: E Pluribus Unum? Journal of Research in Rural Education, 15(2), 106-117.

Powers, A. (2009, January 22). Weak economy threatens rural schools. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 3, 2011, from http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jan/22/nation/na-rural-school-closures22

Provasnik, S., Kewal R.A., Coleman, M.M., Gilbertson, L., Herring, W., & Xie, Q. (2007). Status of Education in Rural America (NCES 2007-040). Washington, DC.

National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. (2002). Rural school achievement program to the elementary and secondary education act. (No Child Left Behind Act of 2001). Washington, DC: United States Congress.

Reynolds, D. R. (1999). There goes the neighborhood: Rural school consolidation at the grass roots in early twentieth-century Iowa. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press.

Ross, T. (2011, August 3). Edu. official: Demographics challenge Neb. Schools. TimesUnion.Com. Retrieved August 4, 2011 from http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Edu-official-Demographics-challenge-Neb-schools-1710721.php#ixzz1U42TJFWY

Scafft, K. A., & Harmon, H. L. (2010). Schools and community development. In J. W. Robinson, Jr., & G. P. Green (Eds.). Introduction to community development: Theory, practice, and service learning (pp. 245-259). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Stephens, E. R. (1998). Expanding the vision: New roles for educational service agencies in rural school district improvement. Charleston, WV: AEL(now Edvantia, Inc.), The Rural Center.

The Associated Press (March 13, 2009). Economic crisis threatens small, rural schools. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29681556/ns/us_news-education/t/economic-crisis-threatens-small-rural-schools/

U.S. Department of Education, (2002). Subpart 1 Small rural school achievement program—eligibility: Reauthorization of the elementary and secondary education act Washington, DC: U.S. Congress.

Walker, M. (2010). Choice, cost and community: The hidden complexities of the rural primary school market. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 38(6), 712-727.

Williams, J., Nierengarten, G., Munson, B., Riordan, K., & Corbett, D. (2009). Learning communities in transition: The voice of rural administrators. In A Region Apart: Rural Education in Minnesota. Mankato, MN: Center for Rural Policy Development.

Zimmerman, J. (2009). Small wonder: The little red schoolhouse in history and memory. Cambridge, MA: Yale University Press.


Full Text: PDF

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Publication of the National Rural Education Association - http://www.nrea.net

Report problems or questions about to the website to jshedd@library.msstate.edu