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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 Battle of Ideas

The Battle of Ideas

Chapter:
(p.138) 7 The Battle of Ideas
Source:
The Fight for Local Control
Author(s):

Campbell F. Scribner

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501700804.003.0008

This chapter examines curricular disputes. The roots of curricular conflict frequently lie in changing structures of school governance and realignments of political power. Thus, controversy is never simply a question of what children should learn or which educational philosophy should prevail; it is ultimately a struggle between parents, educators, and other interest groups for institutional authority. In the early 1900s, two reforms began the transfer of curricular control from parents and school boards to teachers, librarians, and the state. The first was an expansive interpretation of compulsory attendance laws, which created new legal grounds to limit parental influence in the classroom. The second was school district consolidation, which helped professionalize teaching and modernize coursework, also at the expense of parental involvement. These changes would set the terms of debate for a century to come, framing curricular reform as a competition between local democracy and professional autonomy.

Keywords:   curricular disputes, school governance, institutional authority, school district consolidation, parental involvement, curricular reform, local democracy, professional autonomy

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