Rural school consolidation examined in Great Plains Research

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Rural school consolidation examined in Great Plains Research

Great Plains Research

Between 1932 and 2013, the number of school districts operating in the United States fell from 127,000 to 13,000. The number of individual schools fell from 259,000 in 1932 to 99,000 in 2010-11.

This consolidation of districts and schools continues in the Great Plains, where population decline in rural communities has put pressure on small districts.

A special themed issue of Great Plains Research examines the issues that rural communities face when educating their populations. Articles explore consolidation’s impact on rural populations: Does consolidation cut costs? If so, how much? How does consolidation affect communities?

The issue (Volume 23, No. 2) publishes some of the contributions, both essays and research articles, presented at the Center for Great Plains Studies’ 39th annual symposium at the University of Nebraska at Kearney in April. It also includes a photo essay by noted photographer Chuck Guildner, who photographed one-room and one-teacher rural schools between 2002 and 2006.

Articles in the journal include:

  • “School Consolidation and Community Development,” by Gary Paul Green

  • “The Importance of Being Emily: Lessons from Legislative Battles over Forced School Consolidation,” by Marty Strange

  • “Tiebout in the Country: The Inevitable Politics of Rural School Consolidation,” by Steven L. Willborn

  • “Place-Based Civic Education and the Rural Leadership Crisis in Nebraska,” by Christie L. Maloyed and J. Kelton Williams

  • “Considering Native American Students in Rural School Consolidation,” by Andrea Miller

  • “Economic Issues in School District Consolidation in Nebraska,” by Bree L. Dority and Eric C. Thompson

Great Plains Research is an academic journal published by the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The issue is available via the University of Nebraska Press as an individual copy or as a subscription. For more information, go to

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