BUREAUCRACY AND THE COMMON SCHOOL: THE EXPERIENCE OF PORTLAND, OREGON, 1851-1913
David B. Tyack
The prevalence of bureaucratic institutions in modern American life has led historians increasingly to the study of earlier bureaucratic responses to social issues. There are few areas of American life that have been more frequently accused of exemplifying the bureaucratic mentality than the world of education. It is probably true that here, as in so many spheres of American concern, education is being made the scapegoat for processes in which the entire society shares. Yet, as David Tyack so clearly shows in the article printed below, the accusation reflects one of the realities of the history of education. In his study of the Portland, Oregon, schools he delineates a bureaucratic system which must have had few peers in American life. Probably only in the military could one have found a more centralized and authoritarian direction of human lives.
Tyack shows that bureaucracy originated in an effort to reform education by removing it from politics, raising standards, and introducing greater uniformity into the school experience. But why it was free to go to the lengths it did is less clear. Apparently Americans felt freer to experiment with new means of social control in education than in other institutions. Perhaps because they found few regularities in adult experience, they sought to impose many on children.
Important studies of bureaucratic processes include Ray mond E. Callahan , Education and the Cult of Efficiency ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962); Michael B.Katz