American Presidents and Education

By Maurice R. Berube | Go to book overview

3
Education for the Economy

By the end of World War II, American education had become a national concern. The emergence of an economy that was technological in nature brought with it an awareness of the need for an educated work force. The rise of America as a power in world affairs further correlated with a need to respond to educational needs. Consequently, American presidents increasingly began to view education in national terms.

In this chapter we shall examine the varying responses of these presidents to national issues in education. Since two of the presidents, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, were in the forefront of large-scale educational reform movements, we shall consider their leadership and the reform movements in separate succeeding chapters.


THE ECONOMY: 1945-1975

The post- World War II age had long spells of economic prosperity. The forties, fifties and sixties had major periods of affluence. Unemployment was low, productivity was high and America enjoyed the role of a favorable trade balance in which exports exceeded imports. Concomitantly, America's national leaders could afford to invest in education. By the time massive poverty was rediscovered in the 1960s, the affluent two-thirds of Americans felt more compassionate toward the poor. As productivity declined in the seventies, the American economy began a slow decline.

For nearly three decades after World War II, America prospered. Perhaps the most popular economic analysis of the time was John Kenneth Galbraith's book aptly titled The Affluent Society. Published in 1958 as the American economy prospered, Galbraith's tome was a paean to America's

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American Presidents and Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Education and the Presidency 1
  • Notes 9
  • 2 - Education for Democracy 13
  • Notes 27
  • 3 - Education for the Economy 31
  • Notes 52
  • 4 - Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) and the Equity Reform Movement 59
  • Notes 81
  • 5 - Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and the Excellence Reform Movement 87
  • Notes 115
  • 6 - George Bush (1989- ) and National Standards 121
  • Notes 138
  • 7 - A National Framework 143
  • Notes 152
  • Bibliography 155
  • Index 165
  • About the Author 171
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