Preface: Focus and Limitations
It is important for readers to understand what this essay is and what it is not.
- Drawing on secondary sources and the personal knowledge of the project's advisors, this essay offers a broad historical overview that addresses the field's major developments, events, and issues, and introduces many of its key organizations, and individuals.
- This essay does not strive to review the entire history of education policy. It is far too brief to take on such a vast topic.
- It is also not an interpretive work of original scholarship that argues a thesis about the evolution of education policy. Although a certain degree of bias is inevitable in any narrative, this essay aims for a relatively objective recounting of events and issues.
- The essay is weighted toward the actions of the executive branch and, broadly, on legislation passed by Congress. It does not generally address the actions and motivations of individual legislators. Similarly, while the essay addresses a few critical court cases that have profoundly affected federal education policy, it does not address the many state cases that contributed to the development of federal policy or responded to its implementation. (Because court cases are relatively well documented in the public record, the project's documentation efforts are also focusing more on executive and legislative records.)
- The focus of the project of which the essay is a product is the impact of states on the shaping of federal policy, not the impact of federal policy on the states. The essay, however, concentrates on the federal dimension in order to provide context for further research into the role of states and because the role of states in shaping federal policy has notyet been studied enough to provide an adequate summary.