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The Fight for Local ControlSchools, Suburbs, and American Democracy$
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Campbell F. Scribner

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501700804

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501700804.001.0001

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The Meaning of Local Control

The Meaning of Local Control

Chapter:
(p.15) 1 The Meaning of Local Control
Source:
The Fight for Local Control
Author(s):

Campbell F. Scribner

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501700804.003.0002

This chapter explains local control in the context of suburbanization, conservative politics, and school reform, and demonstrates how the confluence of these issues changed practices of municipal government. Local autonomy had almost no legal basis before the 1890s, when a handful of states added home rule amendments to their constitutions, and even then it was primarily used to empower cities at the expense of suburban and rural areas. It was the rise of mass suburbanization between the 1910s and the 1950s that prompted calls to protect small-town government, with attendant rights of zoning, tax collection, and geographical integrity. Conceived in opposition to political machines and profligate spending, the notion of local control became popular with a variety of interest groups, especially rural and suburban conservatives, for whom localism preserved existing systems of political power and smoothed over potential areas of division.

Keywords:   local control, suburbanization, conservative politics, school reform, municipal government, local autonomy, mass suburbanization, small-town government

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