Date of this Version
Great Plains Research 23.2 (Fall 2013), pp. 107-114.
Pressure to force or induce the consolidation of rural schools through legislation is common across the United States. Whereas consolidation was once chiefly about school improvement, today it is more likely to be about fiscal savings. Legislative battles have produced many lessons for rural school advocates which are discussed here. Consolidation is also on the agenda of many of the school reform movements at work in the United States, many of which see rural schools as too numerous, too attached to the communities they serve, and too democratically managed to reform from without. As reformers grapple with the resistance to reform in many rural community schools, they assume the haughty and arrogant style of the fading English aristocracy that Oscar Wilde lampooned in The Importance of Being Earnest. The essay closes with a caricature of the "education reform aristocracy" attributing to it some of the sentiments expressed by Wilde's pompous characters.