ERIC Number: ED195470
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Aug-29
Reference Count: 0
Does Urban Reform Imply Class Conflict? The Case of Atlanta's Schools.
Plank, David N.; Peterson, Paul E.
This paper examines the relationship of urban reform and school reform to class conflict and assesses the adequacy of a class conflict model for explaining school reform in Atlanta in 1897. A model which explains urban reform (including school reform in urban areas) in class conflict categories is based on an ideology protective of middle-class interests and values at the expense of the interests and values of the poor, working class, and immigrants. The hypothesis is that urban and school reform are too complex to be explained by a class conflict model. The year 1897 was selected for this case study because so many school reforms were instituted during that year in Atlanta. Among these reforms were reduction in size of the school board, increase in the powers of the superintendent, implementation of school economies, and introduction of progressive curriculum innovations. The method of testing the effectiveness of class conflict categories in interpreting these and similar reforms involved assessing the process and content of Atlanta school reforms in light of the prevailing class-conflict model of urban reform. Findings indicated that the content of the Atlanta school reforms corresponds closely to the content of reforms described by the class conflict model. Findings also indicated, however, that most school reforms in Atlanta in 1897 were instituted by middle class reformers and by some of Atlanta's most prestigious civic leaders for the benefit of all citizens and, particularly, for working class and poor people who attended public schools. Consequently, the change agents and the processes of change did not correspond to those described by the class conflict model. The conclusion is that it was not class conflict which shaped urban school systems, but rather the demographic and economic transformation which overcame all major American cities around the turn of the century. (DB)
Descriptors: Case Studies, Change Agents, Educational Assessment, Educational Change, Educational Environment, Educational History, Educational Practices, Elementary Secondary Education, Models, Social Change, Social Class, Social Differences, Social Status, Urban Education, Urban Schools, Working Poor
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Atlanta Public Schools GA; Nineteenth Century
Note: Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (Washington, DC, August 29, 1980).