The Great Society: Lessons for the Future

By Eli Ginzberg; Robert M. Solow | Go to book overview

9
The federal role in education

RALPH W. TYLER

DURING the 1960's the federal government's financial aid to schools and colleges surged upward from less than $2 billion to more than $10 billion and continued at this level into the 1970's. A large part of this increase was in funds for elementary and secondary education. In 1960 federal grants to elementary and secondary schools amounted to about a half-billion dollars. By 1970 this had risen to about $3.5 billion. Although scores of educational programs were initiated by federal action in the 1960's, the most important ones can be grouped according to four major objectives: educating the disadvantaged, broadening the access to higher education, improving education for the world of work, and desegregating schools and colleges. Before describing these efforts in more detail, however, some background is necessary.

Although the Constitution does not specify education as a federal responsibility, the national government has long encouraged and often contributed to the support of schools and colleges. In 1785 the Congress of the Confederation adopted an ordinance for the disposal of public lands in the Western Territory that reserved one section of every township for the endowment of schools within that township. In the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 the Congress declared that "religion, morality and knowledge being necessary for good govern-

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