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Opportunities and Challenges in Creating a Bi-Lingual, Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska. Rochelle L. Dalla, Ph.D. and Catherine Huddleston-Casas, Ph.D., Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Opportunities and Challenges in Creating a Bi-Lingual, Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska

Rochelle L. Dalla, Ph.D. and Catherine Huddleston-Casas, Ph.D., Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Presented at the 3rd Annual Cumbre of the Great Plains Conference, April 28th, 2007


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Background & Purpose Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska

  • 1990-2000, number of LEP students in NE increased by 1,000%

  • Meeting LEP student needs acute in rural areas;

    • 10% of rural educator hold ESL endorsement

  • The Career Ladder (CL) Project:

    • Increase ESL endorsed elementary school teachers in rural NE school districts; teacher ed. & preparation

    • Federally funded 1.98 million dollar 5-year grant

    • Teaching certificates & ESL endorsement;

      • Distance-delivered courses (147 cr. hours)

    • Six rural NE Communities: Schuyler, Madison, Norfolk, Wayne, Wakefield, S. Sioux City


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Background & Purpose (continued) Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska

  • 30 participants began CL (Jan., 2003);

    • By Jan. 2004, 9 had dropped-out.

  • Purpose: was to identify individual & familial factors that promote/challenge CL program completion.


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Methods: Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural NebraskaProcedure

  • All active & former CL participants contacted by CL coordinator

  • Data Collected by PI:

    • Quantitative: Self-report survey instruments (e.g., dep., social sup., lang., acculturation)

    • Qualitative: In-depth, tape-recorded Interviews (i.e., benefits/challenges, ways to improve)

  • Participants compensated $40.00


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Career Ladder Participation: Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska

Active (n = 20)

Former (n = 6)

Gender:

F = 25; M = 1

Immigrant:

1st Generation (n = 15)

2nd Generation (n = 5)

Home Country:

Mexico (n = 17)

Guatemala (n = 1)

Peru (n = 1); Honduras (n = 1)

Marital Status:

Married (n = 21); Co (n = 2)

Single (n = 3)

Parents

(n = 24; Total Kids = 64)

M = 2.4 / R = 1 – 4 kids

Child age: M = 10. 4

(R = 11 mo. - 28 yrs.)

Education:

GED (n = 4) / 1 in process

M = 8.4 yrs public educ.

R = 7 yrs. to 11 yrs

College Experience:

M = 2 yrs; (6 mo. - 4 yrs.)

Methods: Sample


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Results: Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural NebraskaQuantitative/Survey Data

  • Depression:

    • M = 13.9 / (R = 0 – 38) / [Possible Range = 0–60]

      • Depressive symptoms not characteristic of entire group

  • Sub-sample (n = 9): Mean = 27.2 (*16 cutoff).

    • Two groups (n = 9; HIGH vs. 17 LOW) created:

      • Statistically significant difference b/w them:

        • (t (24) = 11.1, p < .001)

  • 2 of the 6 (33%) former participants in HIGH depressive group;


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Results: Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural NebraskaSurvey Data (Continued)

  • Social Support:

    • Total Group Mean = 147.4 (R = 103 – 175)

      • Indicating perceptions of strong social support from informal (i.e., family/friends) network members

    • Comparisons b/w HIGH & LOW depression groups:

      • HIGH depressive group significantly LESS:

        • Total Support and all 3 sub-scales: Intimacy/Assistance, Social Integration, & Nurturance


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Results: Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural NebraskaSurvey Data (Continued)

  • Active (n = 20) vs. Former (n = 6) CL Participants:

    • Active participants reported fewer children

      (M = 2.3 vs. 3.0; p = .08);

    • Active participants reported longer residence in their communities (M = 11.3 vs. 5.5 yrs.; p < .01)


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Results: Qualitative / Interview Data Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska

  • Program Strengths:

    • Direct:

      • Economic benefits (tuition, books, computer)

      • Program flexibility: (e.g., registering; books)

      • Opportunity earn degree: “Dream come true”, “Fulfilling life-long goal,”

    • Indirect:

      • Children/families proud of them they were “Role Models” for children kids study more, imp. of education/doing homework


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Results: Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural NebraskaQualitative Data (Continued)

  • Program Challenges:

    • Time / energy required (i.e., FT work, FT school, & maintain family), “Exhausted”

    • Guilt: neglecting family

  • Those adapting best were those with partners actively supported CL involvement (e.g., housework/childcare)

    • 4 partners not supportive; only if own lives NOT impacted:

      • “I’m always watching the clock during class, because I have to be home on time- before he [husband] get home or else he will be upset.”

      • Another reported doing homework late at night- after children & husband were asleep.


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Results: Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural NebraskaQualitative Data (Continued)

  • Challenges (continued):

    • Financial Strain

      • Required to work FT as para professionals who earn very little (appx. $12,000/year).

      • Recognized $ status improve dramatically after graduation economic burden temporary & long-term goal worth it


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Conclusion Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska

  • Differences b/w active & former minimal:

    • Child care assistance and community integration (proxy resources?) necessary

  • 35% group (n=9) elevated depression scores;

    • Mental health assessment & treatment for rural, ethnically diverse populations

      • Mental health access/availability notoriously scarce in rural areas (Doyle, 1998)


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Conclusion Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska(Continued)

  • Social support & mental health;

    • Strengthening networks (formal & informal)

    • Relationships w/ intimates critical to mental & physical health

      • Include family members in various aspects of program increase their knowledge of and support for program involvement


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Policy Implications Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska

  • Policy efforts to support the development of ESL teachers must approach the issue systemically

  • Success is more likely when interdependence is addressed

    • School

    • Work

    • Family


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School Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska

Maintain full-time student status to complete program within funding term

Work

Requires full-time employment as paraeducators

Policy Implications: Current Efforts

  • Fails to recognize the important influence of family

    • Family economic needs when more lucrative employment is forgone

    • Critical role of spousal support for participant success

    • Additional constraints posed when parenting young children


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School Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska

Maintain full-time student status to complete program within funding term

Work

Requires full-time employment as paraeducators

Family

Family economic need, spousal support, parenting responsibilities

Policy Implications: Incorporating Family


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Policy Implications: Incorporating Family Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska

  • Address pressure to secure more lucrative employment

    • Larger stipends or special vouchers (e.g., child care)

    • Sponsorship successful in other para programs

  • Devise strategies to incorporate entire families, fostering spousal support

    • Periodic social gatherings

    • Family-based educational activities

  • Address parenting burden

    • Access to and availability of quality child care


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Additional Policy Implications Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska

  • A funding stream that allows flexibility in the timeline of the program

    • Managing school, work, and family responsibilities eased if part-time student status were an option

  • Distance program is flexible, but can be isolating

    • Enhance informal support networks

      • Developing intensive mentoring relationships

      • Devising opportunities for greater personal contact among the para cohort


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Thank You! Elementary Education Teacher Workforce in Rural Nebraska