Modern Missouri: Educational and
I n significant ways educational developments since World War II illustrate changes in the broader society. Enlarged by the postwar baby boom, a growing population required an enormously expanded system of schools. An increasingly complex and technical world demanded schools that could provide children with better educations than their parents had received. An expanded middle class, holding high aspirations for its children, placed great faith in education as a vehicle for economic and social advancement. Under governmental programs such as the GI Bill (discussed later), higher education became increasingly available, and people came to accept the idea that even college educations should be supported at public expense, a concept made concrete by the community college movement. New groups, particularly women and blacks, entered colleges and universities in larger numbers than previously as the first step in gaining admittance to the economic, political, and social arenas of power dominated by white males. Thus the schools became a microcosm of society, mirroring its strengths and weaknesses.
In 1947 the General Assembly passed the District Reorganization Law, which provided for the elimination of one-room, country schools and promoted the consolidation of small high schools into larger ones. This act required each county board of education to create a plan for district reorganization and to place its design before county voters for approval. The state further encouraged consolidation by allocating matching funds to be used for expanding school