ERIC Number: ED331166
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Forgetting History: 19th Century Decentralization of Education and Police.
Wirt, Frederick M.
Although the current educational restructuring movement in the United States may be designed to improve schooling, it is also a political reform designed to shift the locus of authority over allocation of this service. This political theme is developed in the context of the historical shift from decentralized to centralized delivery of urban public services, including schooling, that was brought about by 19th century reforms. A discussion of the value basis of public policy concludes that value conflict is inherent in all democratic policy making and that value satisfaction requires distinctive forms of organization for proper implementation. A sketch of the value-organization linkage of the period up to 1900 of two contrasting urban services--police and education--illustrates how policy services manage two basic organizational problems: the interface of delivery of services and control. The historical analysis concludes that the provision of either service moved from the private and fragmented to the public and decentralized, and finally, to an integrated, professionalized, and centralized organizational structure. A conclusion is that reform success came at the expense of the formerly decentralized system and created public acceptance of the myth of being apolitical. An implication is that the current school-based management trend will be affected by the organization itself, not without some negative consequences. One table is included. (46 references) (LMI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, April 3-7, 1991).