The historical development of the public school system in Waxahachie, Texas : exploring a local dialect in the grammar of schooling
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The history of the Waxahachie public schools from 1884 to 1970 reveals not only the development of the school system itself, and the local, regional, and national trends which influenced public education, but also serves as a case study of what David Tyack and Larry Cuban describe as the grammar of schooling, the inherent and implicit rules for bringing about a “real school” as perceived by its stakeholders. The study provides insights into the effects of local concerns vis a vis the larger movements and events in American history upon the development of this particular local school system. The origins and the subsequent development of the public school system in Waxahachie, a small north-central Texas community located approximately thirty miles south of the Dallas, Texas, is the focus of this dissertation. The chronological history of the Waxahachie public school system, as an early independent school system is examined from its preceding influences, through its tumultuous inception, to its consequent periods of stability, professionalization, and growth. The study encompasses three major superintendencies, equating them to regimes by virtue of their length of tenure, and as a touchstone for depicting the societal trends with which they contended or reflected. Influences of race and religion are examined as primary and secondary animating themes. The manner in which educational philosophies as described by Watras, including Scholar Academic, Social Efficiency, and Learner-Centered, are examined in relation to the historical periods during which each superintendent held office. A detailed history is presented about each superintendent’s term of office, exploring such topics as meeting the needs of a growing school district, accounting for curricular trends and forces at the local, regional, and national level, and navigating the societal terrain in the establishment and maintenance of a “real” school.