It is an event when an important book on education appears; the field is prone to over-proliferation of under-significant literature. Mark down, then, the publication of Joseph Cronin's study of changing patterns of political control of big-city American schools as an unqualified event. Drawing on both his own field research and the findings of other investigators, Cronin traces the history of governance in 14 large urban public school systems from the 19th century to the present, stressing the effects on educational policy and management of the shift from decentralized to centralized control which accompanied the municipal reform ferment at the turn of the century. This background provides a cleansing perspective on the current reform movement to return to some form of local decision-making and the various issues -- community versus professional control, the merit versus the civil service systems, etc. -- associated with that effort; and in the final chapters -- those which will be most attentively read by both factions -- Cronin reviews the successes and failures of decentralization plans in New York City, Detroit, and the other major cities, calmly reporting his well-substantiated conclusions (which are quite critical of local control accomplishments to date). Present proposals for school board reform (elected or appointed) in each city are also examined. Cronin agrees that the times, they are achangin', but he warns that ""Reform carries a price,"" that the politics of decentralized urban education is a spur to racial tension, a source of divisiveness between professional educator and the community, and fertile ground for misuse of funds and scandal. The Control of Urban Schools, valuable for both its historical fulcrum and current relevance, will be consulted by educators, politicians, and community leaders for years to come.