There is a tension between the principles of global education reform, with its focus on fiscal efficiency, literacy and numeracy, and the increasing interest in meeting the needs of the whole child and addressing childhood adversity within schools. In rural communities, this tension may be heightened by fractured social service networks mediated by distance and the declining economic well-being of many communities perpetuated by decades of unfavorable social and economic policy. Drawing on focus group discussions with 110 rural Maine educators, this study examines how rural educators negotiate this tension in their day to day practice to address student needs through the lens of critical rural theory. I find that teachers describe resistance at the individual and collective level to pressures they feel are imposed upon them fiscally and politically, leveraging their marginality and drawing on an ethos of care to mitigate symptoms of adversity they identify in their students. However, teachers describe the ways in which this resistance comes at a high personal cost. I discuss how teacher insights may contribute to better designed policy to address both teacher burnout and childhood adversity in rural communities; considerations that are even more critical as schools grapple with the social and organizational challenges brought on by COVID-19.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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