Final Public Oral Exam: Michael Glass

Final Public Oral Examination
Event date: 
May 13, 2020 - 10:00am
Seminar Series: 
Final Public Oral Exam

Schooling Suburbia: The Politics of School Finance in Postwar Long Island


Kevin M. Kruse, Adviser
Alison Isenberg
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Brent Cebul, University of Pennsylvania


“Schooling Suburbia” is the first comprehensive history of suburban educational inequality. It analyzes the relationship between public education, property markets, fiscal politics, and social movements by comparing seven school districts in Long Island during the decades after World War II. The study is divided into two parts. Part I, titled “Foundation,” uncovers the sources of the resource disparities between these districts. Instead of only tabulating the disparities, however, this section makes legible the institutional structures, the mechanisms, that distributed resources unevenly. This requires looking beyond the schoolhouse walls to examine real estate, municipal debt, commercial development, and other broad capitalist processes. The unequal outcomes of these processes then drove political conflicts over the ensuing decades. Part II, titled “Fault Lines,” compares three campaigns that directly challenged educational inequality: desegregation, state aid lobbying, and school finance lawsuits. While each campaign assembled different coalitions and deployed different tactics, none of them could dislodge the unequal foundations embedded amid the postwar boom. Thus, the contemporary metropolitan landscape—of stark wealth disparities, entrenched segregation, and profound differences between neighboring places—is not a recent development. Rather, as this dissertation shows, it is the cumulative product of uneven capitalist development and unfinished political battles.

A copy of the dissertation will be available for review two weeks before the exam. Contact Lee Horinko for a copy of the dissertation and the Zoom meeting link and password.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Area of Interest: 
African American
History & Public Policy
Public History
Social History
Urban History
United States
20th Century