ERIC Number: ED427931
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Jun
Reference Count: N/A
The Consolidation Battle of 1966 and the Creation of the Arkansas Rural Education Association.
In 1966, the Arkansas Education Association (AEA) presented a plan to consolidate school districts by dissolving all school districts with less than 400 students. The proposal spawned an enormous debate, and opponents organized a political action committee named the Arkansas Rural Education Association (AREA). The issues involved were: (1) the proposal threatened local control of education; (2) rural communities could not thrive without their own school districts; (3) students would spend excessive time on buses; (4) the debt burden of consolidation was unbearable; and (5) forced consolidation was a desecration of the democratic process. When AEA argued that rural schools were costlier, AREA countered with the fact that the 129 small schools affected by the proposal cost $135,000 above the minimum funding formula while the 12 largest districts cost $730,000 above the formula. AEA's claim that rural schools could not adequately educate students was rebutted by the fact that small school districts only had 10 percent of the total school age population, yet provided over 10 percent of the honor students in higher education. AREA gave people with little experience in state politics a voice. By infusing the consolidation issue into every political race in the state, and by effectively using the media to get their message out, AREA resoundingly defeated the proposal. AREA has continued to provide rural citizens a vehicle for voicing the needs of rural educational systems. (TD)
Descriptors: Advocacy, Educational History, Educational Policy, Elementary Secondary Education, Mass Media Role, Organizations (Groups), Politics of Education, Rural Schools, Rural Urban Differences, School Community Relationship, School District Autonomy, School District Reorganization, School Districts, Small Schools, State School District Relationship
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: University of Central Arkansas, Conway.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arkansas