Schools as the Center of Rural Communities: An Ethnographic Study.Report as inadecuate

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An ethnographic study examined school-community relationship and its effect on program implementation in six rural South Dakota towns serving as sites for the South Dakota Head Start/Public School Transition Demonstration Project (SDTP). SDTP is part of a national project to test whether providing continuous comprehensive services to Head Start children and their families through third grade can maintain and enhance the early benefits attained by the children. Family service coordinators (FSCs) act as liaisons between state agencies, community agencies, schools, and parents; make routine home visits; and ensure that families receive services in the areas of health, education, social services, and parent involvement. Data collection included participant observations in elementary schools and communities while "shadowing" FSCs during their work days; formal and spontaneous interviews with FSCs, principals, teachers, and parents; examination of school documents; and analysis of FSC journals. Preliminary results suggest that only two of the six elementary schools were at the center of community life, and identify community characteristics that influence the school-community relationship and program success. These characteristics include sense of community, community size, community norms, heterogeneity of the community, and level of parent involvement. Contains 40 references. (SV)

Descriptors: Community Attitudes, Community Characteristics, Context Effect, Demonstration Programs, Educational Change, Elementary Education, Elementary Schools, Ethnography, Family Programs, Parent Participation, Preschool Education, Program Implementation, Rural Schools, School Community Relationship, Transitional Programs

Author: Allen, Sharon M.; And Others


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