The purpose of this qualitative multisite case study is to explore the history of school funding and policy in Montana K–12 schools with a focus on how the State legislature is or is not providing equality of educational opportunity. Because teachers are the most significant school-related factor on student performance, the analyses will focus on data involving recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers in rural contexts. This case study occurs from 2004–2019 when school districts sued the State legislature in Columbia Falls v. State of Montana (2004/2005) for not providing an adequate education. The Montana legislature revised their school finance model and, while the State claims the funding is sufficient, Montana continues to face a critical quality educator shortage in rural communities. Since 74% of Montana schools identify as rural this is especially problematic.
Critical place-conscious theory was applied to the multisite case study, which consists of five interconnected phases where the semi-structured interviews influence critical policy discourse analysis. The study focused on two rural school districts impacted by the educator shortage, identified as the Glacier and Yellowstone sites. Findings demonstrate that there is a disconnect between Montana policies addressing teacher recruitment and retention, and the reality of educators’ professional lives. The unsustainable workloads of teachers, inadequate staffing, low-compensation, and unaffordable housing are all challenges faced by Montana teachers. Rurality is not the primary cause of these challenges rather these issues appear to be systemic. A major conclusion is that teacher attrition impacts the quality of education students receive therefore equality of opportunity does not exist between rural and non-rural schools in Montana. Local school districts are integrating place-conscious solutions to fill this opportunity gap such as teacherages and innovative scheduling, however, not all schools have the financial capacity or leadership to do so, therefore the Montana legislature has a responsibility to provide more funding to schools impacted by the critical quality educator shortage. Furthermore, a new framework, the Place-Conscious Social-Ecological Model, is suggested to create education policy that values Montana’s rurality.
|Advisor:||Stanton, Christine R.|
|Commitee:||Downey, Jayne, Lux, Nicholas J., Schmitt-Wilson, Sarah|
|School:||Montana State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Montana|
|Source:||DAI-A 82/6(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Education Policy, Curriculum development, Educational administration, Educational leadership, Labor relations, Educational sociology|
|Keywords:||Critical policy discourse analysis (CPDA), K-12 education, K12 education, Place-consciousness, Rural school districts, Teacher recruitment, Teacher retention, State of Montana, Columbia Falls|
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