The highly contentious issue of school consolidation in Illinois has been captured in 46 oral histories made available online by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Parents, teachers, officeholders and even former state superintendents of schools give their stories, some beginning in the 1950s, from various angles. The one-room schoolhouse disappeared shortly after World War II and consolidations occurred rapidly in the ensuing decades. A major force behind mergers has been the revolution in farming, larger plots of land worked by fewer people. That has meant a steady depopulation of rural areas and with it, local schools. Taxpayers have long fought against losing such small-town centerpieces. Lincoln museum officials say the school mascot has been dubbed "the most difficult animal to kill."
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