Wednesday, August 1, 11:00-11:30, SUB Ballroom D, Theme: Practice

This presentation attempts to name and dispel rural deficit narratives underlying conceptions of rurality and theoretical constructs in rural education research. While education research relies on identifying “problems” we question if problem literature has reified the pervasive and enduring deficit frames scholarship attempts to disrupt. For this work, we glean insight from deficit ideologies in urban education and question how this ideology might be operationalized in rural spaces. Given this theoretical foregrounding, we ask what rural education literature does to position deficit thinking about rural teachers, students, and spaces. We also ask how rural education researchers can address deficits without using deficit theory. Gorski (2010) posits to dismantle deficit thinking, one must identify the signs that a deficit ideology is at play. These include shared assumptions and stereotypes, embedding poverty and inequalities within cultures, and a lack of understanding of the sociopolitical contexts at play. In thinking about preparing teachers for work in urban schools, Lazar (2007) says we must dismantle a legacy of racial prejudice. Is that same dismantling needed in rural schools and research? How do we advocate for rural communities where pride serves to mask provincialism, nationalism, or racism? How do we move conversations away from the “culture of poverty” to understandings around food or housing insecurities to make concrete the abstract language used to characterize rural people and places? These questions and our reckoning with troubled rural narratives will serve as discussion points for participants working in and with rural communities.