Landmark Congressional Laws on Education

By David Carleton | Go to book overview

17
Department of Education
Organization Act

October 17, 1979

The Department of Education Organization Act created the modern U.S. Department of Education. The best way to administer federal education programs had been a chronic source of debate both in and out of government. Those who wished to protect the traditional role and prerogatives of state and local governments in education fought to keep the federal administrative structure small and weak. Those who wished to see the federal government play a more active role in setting the country's educational agenda pushed for a more pronounced and influential administrative structure. A department of education was first created in 1867, but it was quickly downgraded to a “bureau” and then to an “office.” During the administration of Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, the Office of Education was folded into the new Federal Security Agency, which would become the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). When the federal government expanded its role in education during the 1960s, there was growing concern that the existing Office of Education within HEW was both inadequate to the expanded administrative task and unable forcefully to advocate on behalf of education. In the 1976 presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter formally endorsed the idea of a new separate department of education, and his victory initiated the process that culminated in the Organization Act in 1979.

During the fight for passage, the politics over the Department of Education were hard fought. The effort to pass the act failed in 1978, when it was killed by a unique coalition of the most conservative and most liberal members of the House of Representatives.

-193-

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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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