School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Richard L. Green


educational opportunities, lack of school choice, mental health, rural parents


Counseling | Education


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of parents whose children have limited educational options in rural North Carolina. The theory chosen to guide this study was choice theory, founded by William Glasser, as it explains that all behavior including reactions to others’ choices, and the body’s reaction to stress are chosen by the individual (Glasser, 2001). Additionally, choice theory recognizes the basic needs of survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun, and their impact on behavior which Maslow identified in his hierarchy of needs model (Glasser Institute for Choice Theory, n.d.). Parents want to feel as if they are making the right decision for their child’s education, and choice theory supports a parent’s behavior and reactions to available educational options for their children (Tan, 2011). Data was collected through a series of interviews, journaling prompts, and cognitive representations. Upon completion of the data collection, the interviews were transcribed and analyzed for themes. Parents reported that lack of school choice ranged from having no negative impact on their mental health to feeling anxious, frustrated, in turmoil, angry, and saddened by the educational choices for their children. The experiences described were also influenced by their child’s needs, if they had lived in rural North Carolina their whole lives, and if they had ever had school choice options at a previous time in their life.