Forced Communities: Rural School Consolidation & Urban School Desegregation
I am in early stages of research for this article, which will put into conversation the better-known legal history of urban school desegregation with the lesser-known legal history of rural school consolidation. Although rural school consolidation was, and continues to be, a central recurring issue for rural local governments, the efforts to reorganize school districts through state-wide legislation in states like Kansas during the 1960s and 1970s reveal how both consolidation and desegregation were intertwined. Legal decisions, legislation, and education policy culminated in the creation of new twentieth-century social and physical communities in both urban and rural spaces. The debates surrounding both school consolidation and desegregation reveal not only how central schools are to community identity, but also how legal resolutions to issues of inequities in education quality—in both rural and urban communities—were forced to confront non-legal political and social questions of who belongs in a community and who gets to define community boundaries.
Legal Landscapes, Migrant Labor, and Rural Social Safety Nets: