This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
In many of our large municipalities . . . patrols are made up of twelve or fifteen older boys, chosen by their school principal, one being elected chief, and all having patrol badges. Just before school is dismissed, members of the patrol station themselves at given posts around the school building, and it is their duty to guide younger children safely over the dangerous crossings and to prevent the confusion in the streets that is always so disturbing to vehicular traffic whenever school is dismissed.
As the movement progresses, it is found that further interest is to be awakened in youthful pupils by asking them to report to the chief of their safety patrol any dangerous conditions they might come across in street or building. Bulletin boards have been supplied in the schools, and on these the information so obtained is carefully read by all. After two weeks a record is made and submitted to the supervisor of the local committee on public safety, who takes up the various complaints with the proper authority. - The Evening Post (N. Y.), June 20, 1914.
Decentralization is favorable to change. This is doubtless one reason why the federal form of government has grown in favor. A school system in which each locality, and each teacher as well, is allowed a large degree of liberty, will be more progressive than a strongly centralized one, other things being equal. Local pride is stimulated, competition between groups is fostered; every worker does his best, especially in the things which he has helped to originate. Whatever variation a primary group matures has its chance to be put on trial.
But we must not forget the central authority. There must be a mechanism to keep up communication between the local units; there must be power to put into effect reforms which require cooperation. Decentralization has always existed in the United States, but centralization has had to grow. Education started with purely local organization. The departments of public instruction in city and state, and the Bureau of Education at Washington came into existence to exercise functions which were entirely beyond the power of school district, township, or county, and largely as a result of agitation by such innovating individuals as Horace Mann and Henry Barnard, acting through teachers' associations.