Conceptual foundations to define rural education are murky and eclectic. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, nation building was the one educational mission driving rural education. The structure of rural schooling depended heavily on decisions made during the Civil War (1861–1865) and on the Homestead Act (1862). The Act and the actions taken as a result of it had an adverse effect on rural America, specifically in the center of the nation, where it created artificial communities based solely on land speculation, established an agricultural economic framework dependent on national markets that lasted until the farm and economic crises of the 1980s, and ultimately diminished the indigenous customs and belief systems about the way of life in rural America. At the same time, ...

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