Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009
The Nixon Years: The Education Amendments of 1974
Also in 1974-in keeping with the idea of compensatory programs as a substitute for racial integration-Congress passed a series of Education Amendments to the ESEA. These amendments dramatically expanded federal aid to compensatory programs in low-income areas. They funded dropout prevention projects, school health services, gifted children's programs, women's equity programs, career education, arts education, metric education, consumer education, ethnic heritage centers, federal programs for migratory, delinquent, and Native American pupils, and dozens of other programs. The amendments increased overall federal authorizations for education by 23 percent-from $2.8 billion in 1974 to $3.5 billion in 1975-and, in so doing, bolstered the idea that carefully targeted compensatory programs were essential to equal opportunities in the nation's schools. All told, the Education Amendments of 1974 allocated more than $12 billion over four years to categorical programs in public schools.
The most prominent of these programs was, of course, Title I, which distributed $1.8 billion, or 51 percent of the total, in 1975. Another prominent program, Title VII for non-English-speaking students, distributed $100 million in 1975-but also entailed some important regulatory changes. Title VII had originally fit with the anti-poverty rationale of the ESEA, but the Education Amendments of 1974 removed the poverty criterion for Title VII eligibility. Grants thereafter flowed to non-English-speakers regardless of their family income. In effect, non-English-speakers received funds not because of economic disadvantages but, rather, simply because of linguistic deficiencies. They did not have to be poor to receive support. The same principle applied to other groups of disabled pupils, including mentally retarded, physically handicapped, and emotionally disturbed students, all of whom received aid regardless of family income. Indeed, one of the most significant shifts in federal aid after 1974-1975 was the addition of non-poverty-related to poverty-related criteria for eligibility.