Education Policy: Research: Historical Overview: Preface:

Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009

Preface: Framework of the Project and Essay

Education policy is a broad topic that could be subdivided in numerous ways. The project staff and advisors have identified thirteen major subtopics that have been subjects of federal policymaking over the past half century:

  • States' advocacy on federal education policy
  • Standards, assessments, and accountability
  • Economically disadvantaged students-Title I
  • Students with disabilities
  • Bilingual education
  • Equal educational opportunities for women and girls
  • School desegregation
  • Early childhood education
  • Workforce preparation
  • Learning technologies
  • School financing: court cases
  • Governance and organization
  • International dimensions

(For a version of this list that includes major federal actions associated with each topic, see Key Topics.)


The project's documentation efforts are concentrating initially on the first three subtopics and will address the others over time. (In many cases, organizations and individuals engaged in the first three areas have been active in other areas as well, so the documentation process will in effect be working on all fronts, though not at first with equal emphasis.) The essay is not structured around these subtopics, but they do inform its content.

Presidential administrations define the sections within the chronological flow of the essay. Although milestones in education policy do not always correspond with changes in administration, each new administration does bring a new cast of characters to both executive and legislative positions, and education-related entities may be created, restructured, redirected, or eliminated in the political transition. Therefore, the transition in national political leadership provides an appropriate structure within which to view the profoundly political process of education policy formation. (See a chronology of key developments in education policy since 1944.)

 

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