Date of Award

8-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Advisor

ROSENBLITH, SUZANNE

Committee Member

SPEARMAN , MINDY

Committee Member

FLEMING , DAVID

Committee Member

COGGESHALL , MIKE

Abstract

This qualitative, single-case study explored the closing of a small, rural, historic, mill-town school in the southeastern United States and why people were upset with the closing of the school. Through the responses of 12 purposefully selected participants, the study focused on attitudes, perceptions, and values of students and parents, school district employees and affiliates, and community constituents as they relate to functions of school and schooling, culture of school and schooling, the school itself, and relationships between school, community, and individual. Findings indicate that participants fought the closing of their community school not because they perceived the nearby receiving schools as unable to provide for the formal academic needs of students but because they valued in their own mill-town school the functions of school and schooling and how they were offered, the culture of school and schooling and how it was provided, and strong, positive relationships between school, community, and individual that they did not perceive as part of or possible in the receiving schools. In addition, the closely intertwined history of the mill village and mill school, as well as the loss of the mills, contributed to their perceptions of the school as a symbol of community, as a vehicle through which memories and traditions were passed to younger generations, and as the last remaining entity through which community cohesiveness and collective identity were retained. The study addressed psychosocial aspects of school closings and consolidations that are missing in school closing and consolidation research, provided additional research regarding the closings of elementary schools, and contributed to education research about salient features and symbolic aspects of public education.

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