The Role of Community-Engaged Leadership, Activist Scholarship, and Vulnerable Rural Ecologies within School Reform
This study examines how rural school and community leaders in one of the most rural areas of the United States are able to collaboratively design a grassroots school reform initiative to address inequity issues related to childhood poverty and trauma. Through interviews conducted with advisory board members implementing the reform effort, as well as our own reflections as activist scholars, our work suggests a) the value of rural leaders protecting their vulnerable ecologies against reform initiatives “from away”; b) difficulty creating spaces to support the protection of vulnerable ecologies and address rural inequities; and c) the need for activist scholars to partner with communities for transformation. As such, we challenge the notion of rural resistance to reform efforts being parochial and reposition this work as pragmatic in response to decades of economic and spatial marginalization. Additionally, we highlight the importance of activist scholarship in rural school-community leadership to ensure development of resilient ecologies that do not perpetuate patterns of repeated exclusion.
Keywords: rural school reform, rural education, school-community partnerships, social design