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There Goes the Neighborhood

Rural School Consolidation at the Grass Roots in Early Twentieth-Century Iowa

David R. Reynolds

Publication Year: 2002

Despite being the centerpiece of rural educational reform for most of the twentieth century, rural school consolidation has received remarkably little scholarly attention. The social history and geography of the movement, the widespread resistance it provoked, and the cultural landscapes its proponents sought to transform have remained largely unexplored. Now in There Goes the Neighborhood David Reynolds remedies this situation by examining the rural school consolidation movement in that most midwestern of midwestern states, Iowa.

Published by: University of Iowa Press

Title Page, Copyright, and Dedication Pages

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

According to popular accounts, the American public school system is in crisis. Schools fail to involve parents effectively in the education of their children. Schools fail to impart the job skills necessary to restore U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. ...

Part 1: Theoretical and Historical Contexts

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1. Introduction: Placing Rural Education Reform

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pp. 3-16

The so-called Progressive Era (ca. 1895–1925) is a period of critical importance for those seeking to understand the emergence of new forms of social and economic regulation in the United States. It was a period of rapid change. ...

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2. Family, Neighborhood, Church, and School

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pp. 17-29

Until recently most historians and geographers have failed to probe very deeply into the nature of the social relations, rural institutions, and culture that characterized midwestern family farming throughout most of its history. ...

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3. The Country Life Movement and Moral Landscapes of Modernity

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pp. 30-45

One of the taproots of American culture has long involved an idealization of rural life and living and a sentimental attachment to the rural as somehow more ‘‘natural’’ and moral. Richard Hofstadter refers to the complex of notions upon which this attachment and idealization were based as the ‘‘agrarian myth.’’ ...

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4. The Political Economy of Public Schools in the Midwest during the Golden Age

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pp. 46-58

In the early nineteenth-century Midwest, the school was a place not much different from other local institutions composing civil society. In any locality the boundaries between institutions were highly permeable and educational tasks were quite casually shifted from one setting for social interaction to another according to local needs and availability.1 ...

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5. Educational Reform in Early Twentieth-Century Iowa

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pp. 59-81

At the turn of the century, a formal, state-level educational apparatus with significant juridical clout simply did not exist in Iowa. There was a state superintendent of public instruction and a state board of educational examiners. Neither possessed much real authority. ...

Part 2: Resistance and Place

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6. Rural Resistance to Consolidation: Who? Why? Where?

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pp. 85-105

Rural school consolidation produced more conflict than any other educational issue placed before Iowa voters in the twentieth century. No issue dealing with public schooling before or since has produced as much litigation as school consolidation did when it was being contested in the hustings from 1906 to 1925. ...

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7. Rural School Consolidation and the Social Construction of Place: A Case of Study of Delaware County

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pp. 106-130

How did local school consolidation movements actually unfold in the rural neighborhoods and small towns of Iowa during the period under study? How did the dominant proconsolidation discourse of educational reformers play in the hustings? Did it adapt to the politics of local movements? ...

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8. Rural School Consolidation and Making of Buck Creek

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pp. 131-173

Buck Creek? Where is Buck Creek? It does not appear on any of the official state highway maps published in the last quarter century. According to current United States Geological Survey (USGS) topographic maps, Buck Creek is the name of a small stream originating about 1.5 miles northwest of the town of Ryan. ...

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9. Rural School Consolidation and the Remaking of Buck Creek

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pp. 174-223

In 1918 and 1919, neither the Buck Creek pastors nor the Buck Creek community captured any headlines in the local press. Chalice’s replacement, William Baker, came highly recommended from the Methodist Episcopal church in Mechanicsville (population 812 in 1920), ...

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Epilogue: Rural School Consolidation— Misplacing Educational Reform?

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pp. 225-248

Although school administrators have advocated school consolidation for more than a century, it still remains one of the most difficult and contentious social policy issues in rural America. Two of the nation’s leading educational researchers, J. B. Banovetz and D. A. Dolan, ...


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pp. 249-256


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pp. 257-288


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pp. 289-298


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pp. 299-306

E-ISBN-13: 9781587293078

Page Count: 318
Publication Year: 2002