State funding for early childhood education in rural Kansas: perceptions of policymakers, early childhood advocates, and superintendents
The benefits of early childhood education have been empirically supported. Early childhood education programs in Kansas are not fully funded and available in all communities. Some rural communities in Kansas do not offer a state supported four year old programs. The purpose of this study was to understand what and who influences the development of early childhood education policy in Kansas. The study sought to understand the political environment and how elected policymakers, superintendents, and advocacy groups affect policy decisions in funding early childhood education. Participants in this study included members of the House of Representatives, State Senators, State Board of Education members, Advocacy groups, and Superintendents. Twenty six individual interviews were conducted across four geographical quadrants in Kansas. The findings delivered conclusions that were analyzed through the theoretical framework of Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF), and provides implications for advancing early childhood policy development in rural Kansas. An increased interest in early childhood education was noted by elected officials. Professional educators had a significant influence on elected policymakers. Advocacy groups provided technical and scientific information but rural areas were not impacted by these groups. Implications of this study included a need for collaboration of stakeholders to market and advance rural early childhood initiatives. There is a need for internal and external shocks to move early childhood education forward. Rural communities could benefit by utilizing partnerships to strengthen community buy-in and sustain early childhood programs. A collective support of participants in the study indicates a growing interest in early childhood education for all children in Kansas.
Thesis (Ed.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Counseling, Educational Leadership, Education and School Psychology