American Presidents and Education

American Presidents and Education

American Presidents and Education

American Presidents and Education


This work represents the first comprehensive study of the involvement of American presidents in educational policy making. Tracing the efforts of administrations from Washington to Bush, Berube analyzes presidential programs in education, the reasons for their implementation, and their correlation to national educational outcomes. He examines both successful and less successful endeavors, the constitutional constraints of the president's role in education, and the increasing national and international pressures to shape educational policies that have characterized the post-World War II era.


The role of the president of the United States in education is changing. As the American economy became sophisticated, the demand for an educated work force increased. This transformation was most dramatic after World War II as America emerged as a dominant technological economic and world power.

Consequently, American presidents have become aware gradually of national and international pressures to shape educational policies for America. They have responded in varying fashion, some more education-minded than others. However, national concern with education has increasingly developed within presidential councils. Some presidents, such as Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, were at the center of large-scale educational reform. Others, such as Richard Nixon and George Bush, have mainly continued past policies. In general, there has been an unbroken chain of presidential interest growing in intensity since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In the early republic, the founding fathers stressed education mainly as a tool for citizenship. Having successfully gained independence through a revolution, they were especially concerned that democracy be preserved, and they perceived education as the best means to insure that democracy would prevail at home. In the nineteenth century, only during the Civil War was there a presidential recognition that education could be advanced for economic reasons. Presidential interest in education was periodic until World War II. With the rise of an economy increasingly dependent on new technology, American presidents were confronted with the need to develop a more educated work force.

This is a policy study. My aim is to analyze presidential involvement in education and the reasons for it and correlate it with an assessment of . . .

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