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The Era of Education

The Era of Education: The Presidents and the Schools, 1965-2001

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    The Era of Education
    Book Description:

    This study of educational policy from Lyndon Johnson through Bill Clinton focuses on three specific issues--public school aid, non-public (especially Catholic) school aid, and school desegregation--that speak to the proper role of the federal government in education as well as to how education issues embody larger questions of opportunity, exclusion, and equality in American society. Lawrence J. McAndrews traces the evolution of policy as each president developed (or avoided developing) a stance toward these issues and discusses the repercussions and implications of policy decisions for the educational community over nearly four decades. _x000B__x000B_By drawing extensively on presidential and other archives, as well as interviews with key players, McAndrews is able to reconstruct the internal debates, negotiations, decisions, and non-decisions over policies, as well as the personal predispositions, political circumstances, and administrative dynamics that elevated a given issue to priority status under certain presidents while leaving it idle under others.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09185-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Education, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    When President Thomas Jefferson spoke in 1802 of a “wall of separation,” he was alluding to the invisible barrier that the First Amendment had created between government and organized religion. The founder of the University of Virginia could just as easily have been talking about education. The nation’s founders viewed it as private, elitist, and virtually absent from the four-month, five-thousand-word debates that produced the U.S. Constitution.¹

    Today in the United States, elementary and secondary education is public as well as private, required of all Americans, and cherished by most. Politicians at every level of government mention education at least...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Public School Aid, 1965–81
    (pp. 7-50)

    Lyndon Johnson would be an unlikely revolutionary.¹ An aging New Dealer with a Southern drawl, Johnson seemed more a career politician than a social crusader when tragedy thrust him into the Oval Office. But while he spoke slowly, he would act quickly. “Look, we’ve got to do this in a hurry,” the president said of his school bill in February 1965 . “I want to see this coonskin on the wall.” Two months later, when Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 , he virtually undid two hundred years of history. Four years later when he...

  6. CHAPTER 2 School Desegregation‚ 1965–81
    (pp. 51-88)

    A conservative, goes the old joke, is a liberal who has been mugged. Lyndon Johnson’s seizure of the political center on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) from 1965 to 1967 offered a variation on that theme. A moderate, one could add, is a liberal who has been elected. Nowhere did the Johnson administration more noticeably seek to govern from the middle than in the area of school desegregation. Yet unlike in his implementation of the ESEA, it was not always easy to find the middle—or the president. As a result, a presidency that restored hope in the...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Nonpublic School Aid‚ 1965–81
    (pp. 89-118)

    “The kids is where the money ain’t” is the way Lyndon Johnson characterized the U.S. education system when he took office. The nation’s Catholic bishops concurred. From 1940 to 1960 , Catholic elementary and secondary school enrollments increased at a rate three times that of public schools. By the 1960 s, nine of every ten nonpublic school children, and one of every nine schoolchildren, attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools. Forty-nine percent of Americans in 1963 favored federal aid to help keep those schools open. Lyndon Johnson was one of them.¹

    But Titles I, II, and III of the Elementary...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Public School Aid, 1981–2001
    (pp. 119-166)

    History will remember Ronald Reagan as a pivotal figure.¹ In foreign and domestic policy, he dared to say what many Americans had long been thinking: that the Soviet Union was an “evil empire,” and the federal welfare state had bred a dangerous dependency. In elementary and secondary education policy, he tapped the frustrations of many Americans that children seemed to be learning less even as their parents were paying more.

    But history follows no script. So the former actor’s deeds could be as unpredictable as his words were consistent. The president who liberally escalated defense expenditures radically reduced nuclear weapons....

  9. CHAPTER 5 School Desegregation‚ 1981–2001
    (pp. 167-189)

    “When I arrived in Sacramento, it had been less than two years since a large portion of Los Angeles had gone up in smoke during the Watts riots,” Ronald Reagan would remember of the years before his governorship began in 1967 . “To understand more about the causes that had led to the rioting, I decided to visit families who lived in black neighborhoods around the state as well as the large Mexican-American barrios in East Los Angeles.” From these secret visits Governor Reagan learned that “some blacks just hadn’t had the opportunity to get the same kind of schooling...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Nonpublic School Aid‚ 1981–2001
    (pp. 190-220)

    In October 1976, Democratic Party presidential candidate Jimmy Carter had assured the Chief Administrators of Catholic Education that he was “firmly committed to conducting a systematic and continuing search for constitutionally acceptable methods of providing aid to parents whose children attend nonsegregated private schools.” In October 1980, Republican Party presidential candidate Ronald Reagan reminded the Chief Administrators of Catholic Education of Carter’s campaign promise. “Not only did Mr. Carter refuse to help parents [of private and parochial elementary and secondary school pupils],” said Reagan, “but he played a major role in defeating the tuition tax credit bill when it was...

  11. CONCLUSION The Era of Education
    (pp. 221-230)

    This study has endeavored to fill a significant void in the scholarly appraisals of late-twentieth-century U.S. political history: while many have written about the presidents and many others have written about the schools, virtually no one (with the exception of the enactment of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act during the Johnson administration) has connected the two. While the connection can certainly be overstated (presidents do not educate children, schools do), it instead has been remarkably understated despite its prominence in presidential politics and policies. Scholars continue to exhaustively address the domestic policy legacies of the recent presidents and the...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 231-294)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 295-306)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 307-308)