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The Appalachian Region is a place that has been severely harmed by poor educational opportunities, but it is also a place where significant educational innovation has occurred. After the Civil War, the mountainous parts of our states mostly voted with the Republican minority. As a result, they received less state money, including less money for education. One result was the formation of privately funded settlement schools that gave opportunities to children who lived where school buses could not travel. Some of these institutions survive and are continuing to innovate. This phenomenon would be a great topic for a book or books. One of the most innovative educational institutions in our region was Black Mountain College which existed from 1933 until 1957 near Asheville.  Of all the books about it, the one that has stood the test of time is Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community (2009) by Martin Duberman. The Highlander Center was established in 1932 and is still going strong despite being closed down by the state of Tennessee in 1961 and being forced to move first to Knoxville and then to Jefferson County. It trains progressive activists. I think Unearthing Seeds of Fire (1975) by Frank Adams is still the best of the books about it. One of the most dramatic political controversies concerning public secondary education in Appalachia was the Charleston Text Book Controversy of 1974. See Reading Appalachia from Left to Right (2009) by Carol Mason. Recently teachers’ strikes in West Virginia and Kentucky have been in the headlines.  See 55 Strong: Inside the West Virginia Tearchers’ Strike (2018) by Elizabeth Catte, Emily Hilliard and Jessica Salfia. The title of this book celebrates the fact that teachers from all of West Virginia’s 55 counties participated in the strike that did cause the state legislature to reverse course and provide better teachers’ salaries and better support for secondary education in the state. Sadly, another pertinent topic in education these days is school shootings. A thoughtful consideration not only of a shooting itself, but also its lasting effects is After Virginia Tech: Guns, Safety, and Healing in the Era of Mass Shootings (2019) by Thomas P. Kapsidelis.

-- George Brosi