NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Reducing Federal Education Involvement

January 11, 1999

Some education experts want Congress to rein in a relic of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The ESEA is up for reauthorization.

The ESEA takes up between one-third and one-half of the Education Department's $33 billion annual budget, and, according to critics, is a major reason why state and local control of schools has been eroded in the past 30 years.

  • ESEA's Title I, "Aid to Disadvantaged Children," cost $8 billion in 1998 and $100 billion since 1965.
  • Despite Title I's expenditures, critics contend, disadvantaged children still do poorly, as only 40 percent of fourth and eighth graders at inner city schools can read at grade level.
  • Title II authorizes $800 million for teacher training, yet the program has never been formally evaluated to see how well -- or if -- it works.
  • Title X spends $450 million on vaguely described "programs of national significance."

Critics of the program believe if the programs can't be killed, they can at least be redirected into block grants back to the states.

Source: Editorial, "Redirecting Federal Education Policy," Investor's Business Daily, January 11, 1999.


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