Historians of urban education have concentrated their attention on the cities of the Northeast, leaving a major gap in the historiography of American schooling. This work, the first to focus on southern cities, makes an important contribution to the field. It presents case studies of growth and change in the public school systems of six cities in the deep South, together with several essays that place the southern experience in a comparative historical and historiographical context. Plank and Ginsberg examine the impact of conditions that have shaped public education in the urban South from the antebellum era to the present time, including racism, segregation, evangelical Protestantism, poverty, ruralism, and the slow pace of industrialization. Among the issues explored are struggles over progressive school reforms in both curriculum and administration, continuing battles for financial support and organizational autonomy, the impact of city politics, and the politics of black education. This book opens a new area of historical research and provides fresh perspectives on political and racial issues that continue to challenge American educators.