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This paper examines the history of school governance in the U.S. It discusses four major shifts in education governance that have occurred over the past 150 years, describing how control was firmly anchored in local communities throughout most of the 19th century. By the end of the century, Americans decided that schooling should serve public needs as well as provide private benefits. Local control of education was considered too idiosyncratic, diverse, and unpredictable in its outcome. Urbanization and industrialization of the country resulted in the industrialization of education. Another transformation occurred in the 1950s when social movements led to an education-reform agenda established to enact massive institutional change. Education was then considered a private good, protected by constitutional entitlement. This view was eventually challenged in the 1980s, a period when schools were considered to be in crisis. Educators shed the concept of education for civic virtue and emphasized economic growth, productivity, and efficiency. The article examines anomalies in U.S. education, such as the fact that, although Americans developed the most decentralized system of school governance in the world, American schools are more alike than different. (Contains 47 references.) (RJM)

Descriptors: Educational Administration, Educational Change, Educational History, Educational Philosophy, Educational Trends, Elementary Secondary Education, Governance, School Administration, School Policy

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Autor: Timar, Thomas; Tyack, David


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