ERIC Number: ED347018
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-Mar-16
Reference Count: N/A
The Political Economy of Rural School Consolidation.
DeYoung, Alan J.; Howley, Craig B.
This paper argues that social, political, and economic circumstances provide better explanations of rural school consolidation than the advertised curricular, pedagogical, or administrative benefits. Modern views of schooling over recent decades emphasize economic development and the need to improve international competitiveness. There is a distinction between "schools" (important places in which people construct a social reality) and "schooling" (an attempt at systematic instruction of knowledge). Historically, rural Americans valued schools as sites for community activities. Eventually, reformers took the communities out of schools and championed the "scientific" and "professional" views of schooling. Despite research advocating small schools and breakthroughs in distance learning, rural school closings continue. To explain the perpetuation of school closings, three theoretical interpretations suggest that an ideology of economic development and social progress influences both the organization of schooling and the predetermined purposes of instruction. First, the classical theories construe economic development as inherently benign. Second, in a "citizenship" perspective, schools become sites for the exercise of the legitimated authority of the state. A third set of theories includes predictable periods of crisis that compel the state to take extreme action. Changes in the political economy of West Virginia have led to recent crises in legitimation and subsequent school consolidations. (KS)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A