The Decline of Localized Education in the United States: A New Age of Bureaucratization

By Ryan Chen. Stanford University. 

This paper examines the bureaucratization of the American public education system, with particular focus on elementary and secondary education from 1945-2000. Trends in revenue sources, school district size and density, school district employment, and teacher unionization are analyzed in an attempt to confirm existing claims of increasing bureaucratization in the American public education system. The paper concludes that the public elementary and secondary schools have become highly consolidated and more bureaucratic in nature following year 1945—a stark contrast to the more localized model education in the early 1900s as described in related literature. Although it is unresolved what was the exact cause of rising bureaucratization, the paper outlines various possible explanations. The findings somewhat describe the bureaucratic nature of American public education, and suggest that recent struggles of American education cannot be simply be solved increasing the quantity of financial resources; a solution must take into consideration the organizational structure of the American public education system.

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