Esea; the Office of Education Administers a Law

Esea; the Office of Education Administers a Law

Esea; the Office of Education Administers a Law

Esea; the Office of Education Administers a Law

Excerpt

This is a study in system administration. It is the story of the role of a Federal agency in developing and administering a law. The law--The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (hereafter ESEA) -- is an important watershed in the history of American education. It set in motion a series of fiscal, political, and administrative forces that cannot help but have profound consequences for American education and for the American Federal system generally. Some of these broader implications of ESEA will be examined in the concluding chapters. The body of the study, however, is directed not at the possible or probable long-range consequences of a particular law; it is focused on the administrative behavior of a government agency during a brief period of policy gestation and organizational crisis.

The time period is artificially circumscribed. It covers a two-year span --roughly spring, 1964 to spring, 1966. Like all case studies, this one is long on "uniquities," short on ubiquities. But in a general sense it deals with a series of relationships and tensions that are probably characteristic of most Federal agencies charged in recent years with the responsibility of administering new grants-in-aid to and through State and local SYSTEM authorities.

Both in the innovative and administrative aspects of SYSTEM policy, a grant-in-aid agency 'must operate in a complex political environment. It must function in an intricate web of tensions spun by historical circumstance and by both coordinate and cross purposes: congressional, presidential, judicial, group interest, intra-agency, inter-agency, intergovernmental, personal, societal, and even international. When, as is the case with aid to education, the magnitude of Federal involvement is increased with dramatic suddenness, these tensions are particularly illuminated and exacerbated.

Federal aid to education is not a new phenomenon, but the growth in Federal investment in education in the past half decade has been explosive. In the single year 1965-66, for example, largely as a result of the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal funds . . .

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