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Rural and One-Room Schools

One-room schools were widespread in America until the 1960s. Almost always located in rural areas, very small schools evoked strong feelings. Most educators criticized them and sought their elimination. Yet most rural citizens valued their local schools and fought efforts to merge tiny school districts. At the start of the twentieth century, there were nearly 200,000 one-room schools. The numbers fell steadily, to 60,000, by mid-century, and then the rate of change accelerated, leaving only 2,000 by 1970. As one-room schools disappeared, so did 90 percent of the districts that governed those schools. What accounts for the consolidation of tiny schools and small districts? This entry offers answers to that question and briefly describes the renewed interest in small schools as the twentieth century ...

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