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Horse-Drawn School Wagon, n.d.

School Consolidation, School Wagon, N.Y.
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_2484
Document Description
Photograph of an example of a horse-drawn school wagon (bus), n.d.
How is this school wagon like school buses today? How is it different?
What form of transportation replaced the school wagon? What was better about this form of transportation?
Why did the number of schools decline in the 1900s?  How did this affect the way students traveled to school?
Historical Challenges
When and where was the first school wagon used to take children to school?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: What percentage of school districts nationwide can be found in New York State?
Berkebile, Donald. Horse-Drawn Commercial Vehicles: 255 Illustrations of Nineteenth-Century Stagecoaches, Delivery Wagons, Fire Engines, Etc. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1989. ISBN: 9780486260204.
Timmons, Todd. Science and Technology in Nineteenth-Century America. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005. ISBN: 0313331618.

Historical Context
Since 1900, the total number of school districts nationwide has decreased from 150,000 to fewer than 16,000.  In New York, the decrease has been from 11,000 to 720.  Schools had to consolidate, or combine, and serve a larger number of students from a greater area.  As a result, students needed a way to get to their new schools, which might be farther away.

At first, it was typical for a local farmer to be paid by the state government to carry students in a horse-drawn wagon to school.  Later, school wagons were purchased to transport students to their schools.  The need to transport all children to school, combined with the fact that rural schools began to serve a much larger area, made school buses a vital part of public education.

Essential Question
How does culture influence a society's education system?
Check for Understanding
Describe the object in the photograph and identify key characteristics of the American education system during this time period.