Challenges and Changes Faced by Rural Superintendents

By Lamkin, Marcia L. | Rural Educator, Fall 2006 | Go to article overview

Challenges and Changes Faced by Rural Superintendents


Lamkin, Marcia L., Rural Educator


This research study was designed to build grounded theory about the challenges faced by rural superintendents. Participating rural superintendents identified five areas that presented a challenge but that also applied to superintendents in other settings: school law, finance, personnel, government mandates, and district or board policies. Further, these superintendents identified challenges related specifically to the rural setting and to their lack of acculturation to the demands of rural school leadership. Focus group research conducted among rural superintendents in New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee indicated that the challenges of the rural superintendency were distinct enough to warrant some specialized preparation for such service

Our public school districts face a serious shortage of candidates for the superintendency (Cooper, Fusarelli & Carella, 2000; NYSCOSS, 2000). Fewer candidates find attractive the role of school superintendent, and many school administrators now wait until the end of their careers before they venture into the superintendency (Glass, Bjork, & Brunner, 2000; NYSCOSS, 2000). Further, many "middle managers" among public school administrators - for example, principals, curriculum directors, and associate superintendents - see vividly the daily stresses and difficulties in the role of superintendent and choose consciously to avoid those problems by not advancing their careers into the superintendency.

Rural school districts and their superintendents face specific obstacles that render service in such districts and roles less attractive than elsewhere. These obstacles include isolation, limited resources, and community resistance to change, and have persisted over time (Barker, 1985; Beckner, 1983; DeYoung, 1994; Sher & Rosenfeld, 1977; Stephens & Turner, 1988). Many Americans lack value or respect in general for "ruralness" (Haas, 1991; Herzog & Pittman, 1999). Rural school superintendents seem to be relegated to the bottom rung of the administrative farm system (Jacobson, 1988b), and rural districts endure rapid and frequent turnover among superintendents in their service (Bryant & Grady, 1989; Chance & Capps, 1992; Grady & Bryant, 1991a & 1991b; Wilson & Heim, 1985). The simple reality for rural school districts at the start of the 21st century is that it is difficult to attract, reward, and retain school leaders.

This exploratory study sought to understand the challenges and changes in the role of the rural superintendent of schools. Seven focus group discussions were completed with nearly 60 rural superintendents in upstate New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Through their feedback and this analysis, the study aimed to develop an understanding of the challenges faced by superintendents in rural service. In confirmation of the issues raised in the literature, the results of this study revealed that practicing superintendents in rural areas have unique experiences in their practice that require specific training through content, instructional techniques, and connections to the field of practice.

Further, the issue of "ruralness" needs to be distinguished from the issue of "smallness" among school districts. Many small districts exist in suburban and urban settings, and they share some of the challenges of rural districts, such as difficulty to recruit and retain qualified teachers, transportation costs, and lack of central office staff or expertise. But there are challenges that are unique to the leadership of rural school districts. Only in rural districts does the superintendent find him or herself to be the sole (or almost) administrator, the only chief executive in the community, and often the only target of public criticism. These superintendents manage what is often the largest employer in the community and thus also bear sole responsibility for both success and failure in the school district and often in the community. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Challenges and Changes Faced by Rural Superintendents
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.