If this was the law, how did it operate when enforced against Panola County schools? What can we learn from this account about the factors conditioning the law's effect? As a preliminary to these queries, note our assumptions about the cultural and political environment in which schools operate. 1 Like any institution, America's educational system reflects the dominant values of its society. When, however, that society is highly diverse, the resulting system strains both toward uniformity and diversity. The professionalization of education through a century has contributed much of what uniformity there is; as a result, there is much agreement in practice across the country on the basic elements of a high-school curriculum. But given our subcultural variety, as well as local control of education, there is also much diversity across the country. High-school textbooks in North and South emphasize different aspects of the Civil War; in some southern textbooks it is not quite clear what the outcome was of the "War between the States." Such considerations forewarn us that in examining education in Panola County we must expect to find the system reflecting both national and local values.