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Making the GradeThe Economic Evolution of American School Districts$
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William A. Fischel

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226251301

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226251318.001.0001

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Early American Land Policies and the Marvelously Efficient One-Room School

Early American Land Policies and the Marvelously Efficient One-Room School

(p.13) Chapter Two Early American Land Policies and the Marvelously Efficient One-Room School
Making the Grade

William A. Fischel

University of Chicago Press

This chapter offers historical evidence that the provision of American schools was motivated by a concern for property values. It advances the idea that the one-room school was an efficient response to the pattern of settlement and economic conditions of nineteenth-century America. The important features of this system were obscured at times by nostalgic antiquarianism and contemptuous modernism. The latter part of the chapter addresses the evolutionary question of why the one-room school was so successful that it persisted long after multigrade schooling had been first established. It is argued that the system sought by most reformers—an age-graded system with professional instructors, multiroom schools, and centralized finance—would have been much less satisfactory in rural America.

Keywords:   land policies, one-room schools, America, rural environments, economic conditions

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