Education Policy: Research: Historical Overview: Nixon:

Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009

The Nixon Years: Challenging ESEA - Title I

Allen's concern for the "effectiveness" of federally funded programs was, in part, a response to a barrage of criticism that bombarded the federal office of education in the spring of 1969. In March of that year, two policy analysts-Ruby Martin of the Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy and Phyllis McClure of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund-released a scathing critique of Title I. Their study, Title I of ESEA: Is It Helping Poor Children?, asserted that a number of states had misused Title I funds and, in the process, had undermined the program's goals. They discovered, for example, that Title I funds had not been equitably distributed to urban schools; instead, funds had flowed disproportionately to suburban districts. Furthermore, when they audited Title I programs, they found terrible data-collection practices: "inadequate time and attendance records, lack of substantiation of overtime pay to [Title I] teachers, inadequate accounting procedures covering contractual services, inadequate equipment controls, and unremitted unused funds."

Most disappointing of all, Martin and McClure saw little attempt to document the connection between Title I expenditures and academic achievement among Title I's poor minority recipients. Since federal evaluation forms had not required schools to show a direct link between Title I expenditures and classroom instruction-let alone between expenditures and achievement-schools did not collect this information. As two scholars, David Cohen and Tyll van Geel, noted in a review of Title I grants, "The analysis in the state [program evaluation] report is meaningless . . . because the data it collected could serve no conceivable evaluative purpose." Growing demands for better evidence of Title I "effectiveness" led federal commissioner of education Allen, together with Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) to propose a new National Institute of Education (NIE) to analyze all federal education programs and, specifically, to study the link between federal aid and student performance in inner-city schools. In short, local "accountability" in the use of federal funds would henceforth be measured in terms of academic achievement.

 

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