The Rural School Problem and the Complexities of National Reform

in School, Society, & State

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780226772097
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226772127 | DOI:
The Rural School Problem and the Complexities of National Reform

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  • History of the Americas


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The second decade of the twentieth century witnessed the rise of a nationwide movement for rural school reform in America that began as a sporadic set of critiques of rural schools and concerns about the countryside. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed a National Country Life Commission to articulate an agenda for reform that focused on strengthening rural schools and other rural social institutions. In the years that followed, reformers worked to improve school buildings, increase school support and term length, broaden schools' rural focus and activities, turn the school into a social center, improve teaching and supervision, and make rural school administration more efficient. This chapter examines the emergence of a nationwide movement for rural school reform as a national project to strengthen rural communities against the forces of industrialization. It considers the role of professional leadership and community building in rural school reform, the consolidation and structural weaknesses of small rural schools, and the place of national rural school reform in America's system of federalism.

Keywords: rural schools; school reform; America; Country Life Commission; school administration; rural communities; industrialization; professional leadership; community building; federalism

Chapter.  15370 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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