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State Advocacy on Federal Education Policy

States influence federal education policy through several principal mechanisms:

  • States as models. The U.S. government models federal policy on the states' successes.

Federal attempts to increase equity in education by extending New York and Massachusetts policies to the rest of the nation

James E. Allen's reforms in New York State and his subsequent efforts in the Nixon administration as commissioner of education

  • States as failures. Perceived failures of the states to create and implement adequate education policy have propelled a great deal of federal action.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965

Brown v. Board of Education decision, together with follow-up decisions and desegregated schools

Lau v. Nichols decision and bilingual education

Education of All Handicapped Children Act in 1975, Public Law 94-142

  • States as advocates. State governments, usually education departments, actively lobby the federal government on policy issues.

Mission and influence of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), especially regarding reauthorizations of federal education acts

  • Congressional initiatives. Legislators band together (independent of state education officials) to promote policy or obtain federal education money. These initiatives may represent responses to political opportunities or components of unrelated deals.
  • States respond to (even resist) federal policy. State responses to particular first-generation policies may yield modifications in the second generation.

Desegregation and other civil rights issues

  • State-federal negotiation. New education policy often results from state-federal negotiation surrounding the perceived successes or failures of existing federal policy.

Reauthorizations of ESEA

  • Personnel shifts. When leaders and mid-level managers move from state to national positions, they often bring perspectives and experience from their states to influence federal policy.

James E. Allen from New York State to U.S. commissioner of education

Gordon Ambach from New York State to CCSSO

Selected bibliography of published materials