Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2013


Great Plains Research 23 (Fall 2013):91-97


© 2013 Copyright by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


This special issue of Great Plains Research focuses on rural communities and school consolidation. It publishes some of the contributions, both essays and research articles, first presented at the Center for Great Plains Studies' 39th Annual Symposium at the University of Nebraska at Kearney on April 5-6, 2013. It also includes some images from a special Chuck Guildner photographic exhibition staged at the Museum of Nebraska Art. The symposium broadly addressed the connection between rural schools and rural communities, including a particular focus on the gains and losses from school consolidation. Good schools are essential to the good life. Americans are optimistic, future-looking people, and we focus much of our hopes on our kids and their schooling. There is little wonder, then, that Americans worry so much about how good the schools are-a concern that is doubly true for rural schools. Despite a widely held norm that good schools are vital to community life, the declining population of many rural towns in the Great Plains combined with tight budgets and intense competition for state aid has often driven both state and local school policy toward school consolidation as a common political response. During consolidation, small communities lose their schools in favor of larger, presumably better or more efficient consolidated schools elsewhere.