Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009
The Clinton Years: Other Education Legislation
In 1997, Congress reauthorized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Vocational Education Act, and the Higher Education Act while passing a Comprehensive School Reform Program, a Reading Excellence Act, and a class-size reduction program. In response to this legislation-and in an effort to ensure their ongoing eligibility for federal aid-states have continued to bolster their requirements for academic performance. In many respects, the states themselves (often with the help of business leaders) have become the trailblazers in the standards and accountability movement. As policy analyst Paul Hill has noted, "The states, localities, and the private sector are now the sources of most new ideas and practices-tutoring programs, student learning standards, performance-based school accountability, new teacher accreditation practices, investments in new school designs, etc."
In 1998, keeping with the theme of state-business cooperation in school reform, President Clinton signed the Workforce Investment Act (P.L. 105-220), which paid for "(A) tutoring, study skills training, and instruction, leading to completion of secondary school, including dropout prevention strategies; (B) alternative secondary school services, as appropriate; (C) summer employment opportunities that are directly linked to academic and occupational learning; (D) as appropriate, paid and unpaid work experiences, including internships and job shadowing; (E) occupational skill training, as appropriate; (F) leadership development opportunities, which may include community service and peer-centered activities encouraging responsibility and other positive social behaviors during non-school hours, as appropriate; (G) supportive services; (H) adult mentoring for the period of participation and a subsequent period, for a total of not less than 12 months; (I) followup services for not less than 12 months after the completion of participation, as appropriate; and (J) comprehensive guidance and counseling, which may include drug and alcohol abuse counseling and referral, as appropriate." This law, which complemented the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, built on the school-business partnerships that had begun in the mid- to late 1970s. Together with the funds that it made available to schools, the Workforce Investment Act also made workforce development a central part of program development in some inner-city schools. (The idea of federal aid to foster workforce development among disadvantaged students had been around since the early twentieth century and had played a key role in many of the most popular federal aid programs, including the Vocational Education Act of 1917, the Vocational Rehabilitation Act after World War I, and the G.I. Bill after World War II.)