See Government Grow: Education Politics from Johnson to Reagan

Gareth Davies
University Press of Kansas
2007

Oxford historian Gareth Davies has delivered a superb history of federal education policy and politics in the United States from the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the mid-sixties to Reagan's first-term efforts to curb the federal role. (It also includes bits and pieces, particularly in the concluding chapter, on more recent events, including NCLB.) The book's insightfulness is best illustrated by its authors' own words: "The federal role in schools became bolder and ever more entrenched [during this period], despite a lack of convincing evidence that federal dollars were improving the quality of American education, and despite the fact that there were Republicans in the White House much of the time who were committed to reining in federal spending....Why...? One must begin by noting that there was not a dramatic expansion in federal spending on elementary and secondary education.... Rather, what stands out in education policy after the 1960s is the increase in federal regulation.... Other than the degree of federal direction, perhaps the most significant feature of this education regulation regime was its comparative detachment from the world of majoritarian politics. The leading actors in federal policy making by the 1970s were not presidents. Instead, they were, for the most part, unelected political actors.... In the case of education, Americans at the beginning of the twenty-first century were still living in the Great Society era, even if the federal role had expanded in ways that Lyndon Johnson could not have imagined...." This is a volume you will likely want in your library. Learn more here.

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