Landmark Congressional Laws on Education

By David Carleton | Go to book overview

7
The Servicemen's Readjustment
Act

June 22, 1944

The Servicemen's Readjustment Act, far more commonly known as the G.I. Bill, has been described as the most significant piece of federal legislation in the 20th century.1 It provided comprehensive readjustment benefits in health care, housing, unemployment compensation, and education to millions of returning World War II veterans. Far more veterans took advantage of the education benefits than had been anticipated, with profound effect. One historian has said that the G.I. Bill made America the best-educated country in the world.2 The G.I. Bill played a significant role, perhaps an indispensable role, in developing the American middle class; it opened the doors of higher education to millions who otherwise would have been denied such opportunity. The bill, moreover, remade colleges and universities, which changed curricula, admissions procedures, and housing arrangements to meet the needs of a huge influx of nontraditional students. The G.I. Bill, finally, set the standard for veterans' affairs in the United States, laying the groundwork for the Korean G.I. Bill, the Vietnam Era G.I. Bill, and the post-Vietnam Montgomery G.I. Bill.

The G.I. Bill was motivated by a concern that the United States not repeat the problems it had encountered with veterans' readjustment after World War I and by concerns about mass unemployment among returning veterans. The educational portions of the bill faced significant opposition from several influential educational leaders, and passage required extraordinary efforts to get the legislation to a final vote. In the end, however, the G.I. Bill gained unanimous support in Congress. The single largest educa-

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Landmark Congressional Laws on Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Timeline of Milestones in U.S.Education xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Land Ordinance of 1785 13
  • 2: The Northwest Ordinance 19
  • 3: The First Morrill Act 27
  • 4: The Freedmen's Bureau 41
  • 5: The Second Morrill Act 53
  • 6: The Smith-Hughes Act 63
  • 7: The Servicemen's Readjustment Act 77
  • 8: The National School Lunch Act 87
  • 9: The Impact Laws 97
  • 10: The National Defense Education Act 109
  • 11: The Economic Opportunity Act 123
  • 12: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act 135
  • 13: The Higher Education Act 147
  • 14: The Bilingual Education Act 161
  • 15: Title IX 171
  • 16: Education for All Handicapped Children Act 181
  • 17: Department of Education Organization Act 193
  • 18: Goals 2000: Educate America Act 205
  • Bibliography 217
  • Index 223
  • About the Author 229
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