Handbook of Schooling in Urban America

By Stanley William Rothstein | Go to book overview
Save to active project

3
City Schools and School Systems: Sources of Centralization and Bureaucratization

H. Warren Button


INTRODUCTION

City schools have not been good places to learn, as achievement scores and ample other evidence show. They have not been good places to teach, as burn out and teachers' testimony demonstrate. They have been slow to respond, or have not responded at all, to changing circumstances, changing clienteles, changing criticisms. After decades as minor participant and intent observer, I conclude that their shortcomings have been due more than anything else to their intricate bureaucracies, which are primarily due to longtime patterns of centralizing: on their first intellectual antecedents, on bureaucratization, and on the ideology of efficiency.

As to the effects of bureaucratization, I am in agreement with Michael Katz1 and other revisionist historians. I shall not argue, however, that bureaucratization, centralization, and standardization have necessarily been linked to, or arisen from, social class structure as it is conventionally defined. Neither is it to be argued that central authority and control or bureaucracy or technology has no value. For some ends, centralization is entirely appropriate. For some purposes, bureaucracy is without an alternative. In some instances, technology and the specialized and sometimes guarded knowledge of technocrats have substantial utility. But overcentralization, overbureaucratization, and inappropriate reliance on technology have far too often disabled urban schools. Therefore, I concentrate here on these matters.

The centralization of the administration of schools and the consequent bureaucratization have been an outcome of concurrent modes of thought, the evolution of society, and the efforts and persuasiveness of a few prominent men. Central control and the bureaucratization of school systems were based on ways of thought developed far earlier, during the Enlightenment, in the 1600s and 1700s. Science then provided belief in natural "laws" and in reason and logic.

-43-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Handbook of Schooling in Urban America
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 421

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?