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ERIC Number: EJ844436
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 22
ISSN: ISSN-1535-0584
East Texas Oilfield Schools: Expansion, Diminution and Reorganization
LeCompte, Karon; Nicol, Tom
American Educational History Journal, v32 n2 p145-152 2005
This article describes the rise, diminution, and reorganization of East Texas Oilfield schools which was defined by the socio-economic conditions of the oil era, from the mid-nineteenth century until the third quarter of the twentieth century. Citizens of East Texas seized the opportunity at the time of oil discovery to provide superior school systems for their children. Reform of earlier schools was initialized and reorganized as the local economy shifted upward. Citizens felt pride in their schools and created progressive programs that were unprecedented at the time. Profit motivated oilfield executives packed school boards, manipulated tax renditions and embraced technological innovations in the interest of producing oil. Oil companies prospered, schools suffered, and some, including the Gaston School that had once been proclaimed, "the largest and richest rural school in the world", now stands empty of students and is silent. Racial integration proved difficult and came slowly for the communities of East Texas. School board members adopted neutrality in their treatment of and interactions with diverse members of the community. They perpetuated a tradition of white dominance through discrimination in the governance of staff quality, equipment acceptability and facility functionality for black school children. Desegregation never occurred at Gaston School and was slow to come to other school districts in the area. Despite challenges of change, many oilfield schools in Rusk County still exist though greatly reduced in facilities, teaching staffs and census of students. The oil wells remain and tax renditions are still contested. However, the giant derricks that abounded during the early days are gone, now having only historical significance. They have been dismantled and their steel members recycled, and sold. Gaston School, born in poverty and built with riches, remains only in the minds of its former students and faculty. They were privileged by their exposure to the school system that resulted from the extraordinary vision exercised by its early Administration and Boards of Trustees. That extraordinary vision and the successes it spawned, is their legacy.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Texas