50 Years of Federal Intervention in Education

June 12, 2014

A half-century of federal intervention in education has done nothing to improve educational achievement, according to a report in the Daily Signal.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress conducted a long-term analysis of educational trends:

  • Today's 17-year-old students perform no better in reading and math than did 17-year-olds in the 1970s.
  • Only 26 percent of high school seniors today are proficient in math, and only 38 percent of high school seniors are proficient in reading.

Over the last 50 years, the federal government's role in education has exploded:

  • The first major federal intervention in education was in 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The bill was 31 pages and provided $1 billion in federal funding to low-income school districts.
  • In 1979, President Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education.
  • President Reagan created a National Commission on Excellence in Education. In 1983, the Commission published a report highlighting the poor educational performance of American schoolchildren.
  • In 2002, President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind law. The law is a whopping 600 pages long, spends $25 billion each year and contains 60 competitive grant programs and two dozen formula grant programs.
  • Under President Obama, Race to the Top grants and No Child Left Behind waivers are available to states that agree to use the national Common Core standards and tests.

Rather than more federal involvement, the U.S. needs to restore power over education decisions to states and localities.

Source: Brittany Corona, "Nearly 50 Years of Growing Federal Intervention in Education, Explained in One Picture," Daily Signal, June 11, 2014. 

 

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