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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 13, no. 24 (April 04, 2005).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c April 04, 2005
The No Child Left Behind Act and the legacy of federal aid to education / Lee W. Anderson.
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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E DUCATION P OLICY A NALYSIS A RCHIVES A peer reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Sherman Dorn College of Education University of South Florida Copyright is retained by the first or sole author, who grants right of first publication to the Education Policy Analysis Archives EPAA is published jointly by the Colleges of Education at Arizona State University and the University of South Florida. Articles are indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (www.doaj.org). Volume 13 Number 24 April 4, 2005 ISSN 1068 2341 The No Child Left Behind Act and the Legacy of Federal Aid to Education Lee W. Anderson Citation: Anderson, L. W. (2005, April 4). The N o Child Left Behind Act and the l egacy of f ede ral a id to e ducation Education Policy Analysis Archives, 13 (24). Retrieved [date] from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v13n24/. Abstract : The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) builds on a tradition of gradually increasing federal involvement in the nat ions public school systems. NCLB both resembles and differs from earlier federal education laws. Over the past five decades, conservatives in Congress softened their objections to the principle of federal aid to schools and liberals downplayed fears abou t the unintended consequences of increased federal involvement. The belief in limited federal involvement in education has been replaced by the presumption by many legislators that past federal investments justify imposing high stakes accountability requi rements on schools. I. Introduction It is not difficult to imagine [the Department of Education] establishing national advisory standards at some point in the future. Later, the department could require adherence to the compulsory standards, if Federal aid is to be continued. Next, standard tests, developed by the Federal Government, could be mandated to check whether the compulsory standards are being met. Last, State and local
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 24 2 authorities will be coerced into acceptance of a standardized curriculum as the only possible guarantee of meeting compulsory standards. Senator Harrison H. Schmitt (R NM) during consideration of a proposal to establish the U.S. Department of Education, Congressional Record 1978, p. 299. The operation and oversight of public schools in the United States is typically the responsibility of states and local communities. Throughout most of the nations history, the federal government was not expected to play a major role regulating or directly financing schools. Even tho ugh important types of federal support for schools and for the principle of education date to the beginning of the Republic, there is not much agreement as to what educational role, if any, the founders intended the national government to play. Similarly, most politicians and citizens accept federal involvement in schools today, but how extensive that role ought to be is still subject to lively debate. Federal interest in schooling, combined with the rhetorical truism of a limited federal role, injects re curring ideological tension into 20 th and 21 st century education proposals before the United States Congress. At present, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is the most visible incarnation of federal education policy. The polarizing law has at tracted attention because of the new requirements it imposes on schools, school districts, and states. Indeed, NCLB is difficult to understand in the context of limited federal involvement in the nations schools. NCLB extends certain federal aid precede nts established by earlier policies. It also departs from these precedents in important ways, thereby setting precedents of its own. The purpose of this paper is to systematically analyze the No Child Left Behind Act in light of the federal aid traditi ons it builds on. The new law impels historians and policy analysts to reassess the political and ideological justification for federal involvement in education. Under NCLB, the federal government has placed itself at the center of a high stakes accounta bility system for all schools. The paper is divided into four sections. Following this introductory section, an overview of NCLB is presented in the second section. Because NCLB builds on and departs from several federal aid precedents, it is importa nt to understand its basic features. It is also necessary to clearly document the legacy of federal involvement in the decades prior to the new law. This documentation is provided in the third section. The final section is a discussion of the themes tha t emerge from the authors analysis of NCLB in the context of federal involvement in schools since 1958. NCLBs most significant effect has been to disrupt the traditional ideological balance between the federal government doing too much and doing too li ttle in the nations schools. A few other introductory comments are needed. First, this paper focuses on the education related deliberations of the United States Congress. The sources of information about these deliberations are committee and subcommit tee hearings, committee reports, and formal floor debates in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. There are many other perspectives about federal involvement in schools (e.g., state and local education agencies, the courts), but Congress is th e most visible arena for this debate, as well as a rich database of education proposals and votes. Because the House and Senate are ostensibly
Anderson: L egacy of federal aid to education 3 representative, the concerns of state and local constituents are aired through the testimony of members or commi ttee witnesses. Moreover, proposals before Congress are lightning rods for interest groups opinions and arguments. In sum, Congressional debates and actions provide an ample record of the federal role in education over time. Second, the No Child Left B ehind Act is a relatively new law. It has attracted a lot of attention, but it is not yet fully implemented. (For information on the early implementation of NCLB, see Sunderman and Kim, 2004 and Center on Education Policy, 2004.) Hence, it is not yet pos sible to determine whether the new law is a coming to pass of earlier warnings of federal control. Nevertheless, the debate and passage of NCLB is an important chapter in the politics and ideology of federal education policy. NCLBs strong support from conservatives appears to signal the end of the long era when conservatives could be counted on to oppose proposals to expand federal interference in schools. Third, the terms liberal and conservative are used in this paper to give more precise meani ng to legislators ideological dispositions. Party affiliation (i.e., Democrat, Republican) does not do as good a job as the ideological terms liberal and conservative) in determining the likelihood of legislators to support or oppose education proposa ls in Congress. For example, Southern Democrats tended to oppose federal education proposals in the 1950s and s even though Democrats from other regions supported these proposals. Of course, the ideological shorthand of liberal and conservative ca n be misleading. The labels do not necessarily correspond to all the actions and opinions of liberal and conservative legislators, especially since 2001. Nevertheless, distinction works well as a reference point for describing the range of ideological op inion on federal education policy over time. [Note 1] When there is a division between liberals and conservatives, it is usually because different beliefs, values, and assumptions make up their respective world views. II. Overview Of The No Child Left Behin d Act Of 2001 NCLB was debated and passed by Congress in 2001 and signed by President George W. Bush on January 8, 2002. The law reauthorized (and renamed) the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was originally enacted in 1965. Although the new law retains ESEAs longstanding emphasis on improving the academic performance of disadvantaged (i.e., poor) students, it adds significant accountability requirements for all schools and school districts that receive federal funds, not just those schools with high concentrations of poor children. When the law is fully implemented, schools, districts, and states will have to meet adequate yearly progress criteria for student performance and all teachers will have to be highly qualified in the s ubjects they teach. As in past reauthorizations of ESEA, Title I is the centerpiece of NCLB. Most of the acts funds and notoriety are focused here. Title I lays out a variety of new requirements aimed at improving the academic achievement of the dis advantaged. States are required to define standards and develop assessments in math and reading for grades 3 8. Although these requirements are consistent with trends in standards based assessment that predate NCLB, the new law has turned them into a na tionwide high stakes accountability system. Schools must demonstrate adequate yearly progress (as defined by states) for all elementary
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 24 4 and secondary students and student subgroups, including economically disadvantaged students, students from major rac ial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency [P.L. 107 110, Sec. 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)]. Using achievement scores from the 2001 02 school year as the baseline, all students are expected to reach proficient levels on state assessments by 2013 14. Schools that do not make adequate yearly progress in meeting proficiency levels on state assessments are identified as being in need of school improvement. School districts and states can also be flagged for i mprovement based on aggregate scores. The law includes a few due process provisions for schools identified for improvement, but little flexibility on timelines or consequences. For schools that fail to make progress, a sequence of corrective measures must be taken by the school district, including providing the option for students to transfer from the school in need of improvement to another public school within the district [ibid., Sec. 1116(b)(1)(E)(i)]. Consequences for schools that continue to struggl e increase over time: supplemental services (e.g., subsidized tutors) for students in identified schools and, later, reorganizing the school (or local educational agency) that remains in need of improvement. Finally, Title I also establishes the Reading First and Early Reading First programs to support early literacy activities. Title II, Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High Quality Teachers and Principals, includes various teacher training and recruitment programs, along with specialized curriculu m programs like civics education and teaching of traditional American history. Title II also includes teacher liability protection. Title III covers language instruction for limited English proficient and immigrant students and Title IV authorizes or reauthorizes several school level programs such as safe and drug free schools and communities, and st century community learning centers. In addition to the school choice provisions of Title I, Title V is focused on promoting informed parental ch oice by means of the charter schools program, magnet schools assistance program, and voluntary public school choice program. Title V also includes more than a dozen innovative programs such as character education partnerships; smaller learning communit ies; community technology centers; and Educational, Cultural, Apprenticeship, and Exchange Programs for Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Whaling and Trading Partners in Massachusetts. Title VI encompasses several programs under th e aegis of flexibility and accountability, and establishes new mechanisms for state and local flexibility and transferability of certain federal funds. Title VII organizes programs for Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native education and Title VIII covers the impact aid program (i.e., funds for school systems impacted by the presence of non taxpaying federal installations). Several miscellaneous provisions and assurances are made throughout the legislation, including a prohibition against federal m andates, direction, or control (ibid., Sec. 6301), prohibition on [federal] endorsement of curriculum (Sec. 9527[b]), and prohibition on federally sponsored testing (Sec. 9529). Throughout the congressional deliberation of the NCLB bills, several co nservatives argued that past federal investments had not improved school performance and that it was time to hold the public education system to a substantially higher standard. This logic underlies the shift away from the ideology of limited federal invo lvement made by many
Anderson: L egacy of federal aid to education 5 conservatives during this period. Sen. Judd Gregg (R NH) made the following claim during the Senate floor debate of NCLB. We have spent $120 billion in the last 35 years on title I, directed at trying to help low income kids. The res ult of those expenditures has been that low income kids are reading two grade levels below their peers and are graduating from high school at half the rate of their peers. There has been absolutely no academic improvement in those kids over this 35 year pe riod. In the last 10 years, when we spent the most amount of money, the academic improvement also has not increased at all. ( Congressional Record, 2001, p. S6064) This language was part of Sen. Greggs larger argument for the bills ill fated private scho ol voucher proposal. However, he and other legislators used the same argument to justify NCLBs new accountability requirements. Many of the provisions of NCLB build on earlier federal laws. Several of these laws and their connection to NCLB will be p resented in the next section. At the same time, the assessment, accountability, and teacher qualification requirements in Title I and Title II of NCLB are significant new developments in federal policy making for education. More importantly, the new law departs from the concept of limited federal involvement that was the hallmark of most earlier education policies. By strongly supporting NCLB, conservatives in Congress have either temporarily or permanently abandoned their traditional opposition to the e xpansion of federal involvement in schools. The ideological meaning of NCLB will be developed in more detail in the remaining sections of this paper. III. Federal Involvement In Schools Before 2001 And What It Meant For The No Child Left Behind Act Ex clusion of the federal government from either direct activity or any form of control over local educational policy was a principle established quite early in American history. ... The history of government and education in the United States is, in great pa rt, a history of the development of federal stimulatory activities with the simultaneous limitation of the possibilities for federal control. Daniel J. Elazar (1962), The American Partnership p. 244 If you think you are seeing something for the first t ime, you are probably wrong. Historians can usually document precedents, precursors, or exact duplicates of the ideas we think of as new. Readers interested in the history of federal education policy must go all the way back to the 18 th century to captu re all of the precedents and traditions for American education policy. In this section of the paper, I present an abbreviated survey of federal education laws starting in the late 1950s. Please be aware, however, that federal interest in education, as wel l as the principle of limited federal involvement, predates the 1950s by a century or more. Because NCLB both builds on and departs from the precedents established in the long history of federal support for schools, it is important to clearly understand t he law and its post World War II precursors. Again, the following overview is not exhaustive, but I
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 24 6 believe it will provide sufficient detail to help the reader place NCLB into appropriate historical context. The lessons to take from the federal laws des cribed in this section are as follows: In Congress, there is an ideological and political distinction between acceptable and unacceptable education policies. Congressional interest in schooling, combined with the widespread belief that the federal role in education ought to be limited, exert opposite ideological pressures. The gradual expansion of federal assistance to schools laid the foundation for NCLB, grounding the apparently revolutionary aspects of the law in an evolutionary process. Several federa l education laws stand out as precedents for NCLB and as components of the federal involvement context generally. These laws are the National Defense Education Act of 1958 (NDEA), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), the Education fo r All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (P.L. 94 142), the 1979 Department of Education Organization Act, and Goals 2000: Educate America Act of 1994. These episodes are important because they expose contrasting ideological and political views about federa l involvement in education. In addition, they each provide modern precedents for some of what is seen later in NCLB. In most of these episodes, supporters of federal aid to education in Congress were typically liberals and Democrats. Opponents to federa l aid were usually but not always conservatives, Republicans, and Southern Democrats. Liberals frequently defended school aid as a necessary and appropriate role for the federal government. Conservatives (and others) were often concerned about the threat of federal control of schools when they opposed these proposals. In several of the laws and debates that predate NCLB, ideologically and politically acceptable modes of federal involvement were developed through the interaction of conservative and libera l values and beliefs. The constructive tension between supporters and opponents of federal involvement kept the federal government from doing too much or too little in the nations schools. Hence, federal subsidies for schools serving disadvantaged youth have been acceptable for the past four decades, whereas unrestricted payments to private schools are usually out of bounds. The National Defense Education Act of 1958 Federal aid to education which, today, shows up on the floor of the House in a space s uit will appear tomorrow in a surgeons gown, next year in a professors robes, and the year after that in an engineers tweed suit. There is no end to disguises available and likewise no end to the spending possibilities of this masquerade. The taxpayer s are not amused. Representative Charles B. Brownson (R IN) during floor debate on the National Defense Education Act ( Congressional Record 1958, p. 16695)
Anderson: L egacy of federal aid to education 7 I begin my overview of the recent history of federal aid to education with the National Defense Education Act of 1958 (NDEA). NDEA is best remembered as a math and science program, although it also provided loans to college students, fellowships to graduate students, and funds for foreign language instruction for elementary and secondary school stu dents (Carlson, 1959, pp. 4 18). It capitalized on widely held concerns about the educational and technical superiority of the Soviet Union, and on the growing belief that a relatively restricted program of federal assistance to K 12 schools was legitimat e. [Note 2] NDEA breached the ramparts of strong and effective opposition to increased federal assistance to schools. One of the reasons NDEA succeeded was because its proponents respected the rhetoric and reality of limited federal involvement in schoo ls. The law delivered federal funds to elementary and secondary schools and to institutions of higher education for specified purposes, a type of assistance that has come to be known as categorical aid. Bills to authorize unrestricted payments to schoo ls (also known as general aid) were successfully opposed, before and after NDEA was enacted. NDEA is an important part of the context for NCLB because it provided the winning strategy of the first Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965. (NCLB i s the seventh reauthorization of ESEA.) Another key feature of NDEA was that the debate revealed explicit arguments about the need for federal aid to schools. NDEA proponents exploited Cold War concerns about U.S. competitiveness, communism, Soviet Sputni k launches, and earlier momentum favoring expanded federal aid to schools. These pro NDEA arguments took into account and overcame arguments from those opposed to the principle of federal involvement. Proponents of the legislation prevailed by respecting the concerns of federal aid foes and by advocating incremental expansion of federal involvement. The strategy is noteworthy because it worked. The NDEA bill actually passed, an unusual distinction for education legislation in the 1950s. Despite the hist orical significance (and success) of the legislative strategy underlying NDEA, it is important to remember that federal aid opponents were still a potent force in 1958. Their influence would wane over the next four decades, but they voiced their arguments and helped limit the scope of federal assistance by systematically registering their objections to NDEA and later legislative proposals. Federal aid opponents cited the threat of federal control embodied in the NDEA bill, a familiar ideological objectio n to all forms of federal education aid. Brigham Young University president Ernest Wilkinson, for example, made the following statement to the House of Representatives subcommittees on special education and general education in 1958. I am afraid of the d isintegrating erosion of particular exceptions, and by that I mean that we legislate one day and say We will do this, but we will have no Federal control. Another day we will do this and we will have no Federal control. Ultimately, it mounts up so much that there has been so much erosion that we do have Federal control. (U.S. House of Representatives, 1958, p. 449) To conservatives in the 1950s, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 would have looked like a very strong form of federal interference. I ndeed, according to the foes of federal aid in the 1950s, s, and s, the threat of federal control was insidious because it was being imposed incrementally. What makes NCLB especially interesting vis avis the
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 24 8 federal control threat is that the expan sion of federal involvement embodied in the 2001 law was advocated by a conservative president and strongly supported by conservative legislators. The expansion of federal involvement occurred so gradually that many of those who opposed the principle in earlier debates came to embrace it by 2001. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 When you get this money in successive years and you come down and ask for more, we are going to put strings on it, more and more. We are going to tell you w hat we think you should do as educators. You are not only going to deal with your State people, you are going to deal with the Federal people. I think you should understand this and have your eyes wide open, too. -Representative Charles Goodell (R NY ) addressing a panel of Catholic educators during House subcommittee hearings on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (U.S. House of Representatives, 1965, p. 596) Building on the precedent of the National Defense Education Act, the Elementary an d Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) dramatically increased federal support for K 12 education. When ESEA was first enacted, it was the cornerstone of federal involvement in elementary and high schools. Congress has since enacted other policies, at le ast one of which is as visible as ESEA (i.e., the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 -P.L. 94 142, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). As indicated in the previous section, NCLB is the current reauthorization of ESEA. ESEA is best remembered for Title I: Financial Assistance to Local Educational Agencies for the Education of Children from Low Income Families. The other Titles of the 1965 act included supplementary support for school libraries and instruction al materials (Title II), supplementary educational centers and services (Title III), educational research and training (Title IV), grants to strengthen state departments of education (Title V), and general provisions (Title VI). With the exception of fina l appropriations, the enacted law was essentially the same as what was proposed by the administration. The administrations bill was conceived largely by President Johnsons 1964 Task Force on Education chaired by John W. Gardner. Gardner was later named Johnsons secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (Bailey and Mosher, 1968, chapter II; Meranto, 1967; Eidenberg and Morey, 1969. See also Report of the Presidents Task Force on Education, 1964). Unlike NDEA, ESEA was a lineal ancestor of NCLB. The original legislation was an outgrowth of President Lyndon Johnsons domestic War on Poverty. NCLB retains the ostensive antipoverty focus of ESEA. Yet, several things changed in the 37 years that separated the two statutes. Fo r example, the objections that had to be overcome were different in the two eras. In 1965, the use of education as an antipoverty strategy was a new, untested, and controversial idea. By 2001, no one challenged the antipoverty rationale of NCLB. [Note 3] Instead, the controversial elements of NCLB were accountability, private school choice, and the adequacy of the funds authorized by the act.
Anderson: L egacy of federal aid to education 9 In addition to being remarkably durable, the original ESEA is noteworthy because of the extent to which the bill s supporters manipulated potential opponents to federal school aid. The election of 1964, in which President Johnson overwhelmingly defeated Sen. Barry Goldwater (R AZ), also made the 89 th Congress a very liberal assembly. Nevertheless, conservative opp osition to federal involvement in education was still strong. Remaining opponents could be outvoted only if several key compromises were included in the ESEA bill. ESEA supporters faced what was certainly a smaller cadre of hard core opponents to the pri nciple of federal aid than existed just a few years earlier. However, potential opponents those legislators who would oppose any education proposal that did not meet their political needs were vocal during the interval between NDEA and ESEA. (Potential opponents were also present in the 2001 NCLB debate. Many Democrats might have abandoned the bill if President Bush and the bills Republican managers hadnt retracted the private school voucher proposal.) What were the issues that would have collectiv ely (or individually) mobilized enough opposition to kill the ESEA bills? The issues were labeled the three Rs race, religion, and reds by many commentators. The race question was not an explicit part of the 1965 debate, mainly because the 1964 Civil Ri ghts Act addressed nondiscrimination and charged the Department of Justice (not the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) with enforcing its provisions. Religion meant federal dollars for parochial schools, which although more controversial than today, had become politically necessary by 1965. Reds meant federal control, a charge that, in the view of ESEAs authors and managers, was mitigated by defining Title I and the laws other provisions as categorical aid. Of course, not everyone was convinced by the arguments in favor of ESEA nor by its careful design. This skepticism was especially true with regard to the assurances that the law would not lead to federal control. Of particular relevance today were warnings about the future threat of federal control embodied in the laws provisions. Representative William H. Ayres (R OH), for example, deplore[d] the use of such a worthy objective [helping the educationally deprived child] as a cloak for their attempt to create the first step for bureaucratic Federal control of the education of our children ( Congressional Record 1965, p. 5748). Rep. Donald D. Clancy (R OH) claimed the ESEA bill was a manifestation of federal control (as opposed to a federal control threat). Under this legislat ion, decision making with respect to course content, curricula, instructional materials and professional standards for teachers would be centralized in the U.S. Office of Education (ibid., p. 5980). A final feature of ESEA helps todays readers understa nd the meaning of NCLB. It is what I call the federal control paradox and it was a component of the arguments made against ESEA in 1965 (and against earlier education proposals). We already know there were widespread claims that federal control would a utomatically result from any attempt at federal regulation. Sen. Absalom W. Robertson (D VA) expressed the structural inevitability and paradox of federal control during Senate floor debate: not only does Federal control follow Federal funds, but it is t he constitutional duty of a Congress which appropriates Federal money to supervise its expenditure (ibid., p. 7523). The situation is paradoxical because federal control (which is abhorred by all) is a logical consequence of the responsibility the natio nal government must assume to ensure that education dollars are used for the purposes intended by Congress. The situation is simultaneously contradictory and inevitable,
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 24 10 according to some legislators, and begins the moment federal funds are spent on schoo ls. At the time, many conservatives believed that this paradox could be avoided only by defeating the ESEA bill. By the time the NCLB debate occurred, conservatives were less squeamish about exerting strong federal influence over schools. Hence, the fe deral control paradox of earlier debates was replaced by the less paradoxical but still respectably conservative assertion: After spending $125 billion of Title I money over 25 years, we have virtually nothing to show for it. [Sen. William Frist (R TN), quoting Education Secretary Roderick Paige in Congressional Record, 2001, p. S3935]. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 [The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975] contains a vast array of detailed, complex, and cost ly administrative requirements which would unnecessarily assert Federal control over traditional State and local government functions. It establishes complex requirements under which tax dollars would be used to support administrative paperwork and not ed ucational programs. Unfortunately, these requirements will remain in effect even though the Congress appropriates far less than the amounts contemplated in S. 6. President Gerald R. Ford (1975), signing the Education for All Handicapped Children Act und er protest. (A veto by him would have been overridden by Congress.) The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (P.L. 94 142) was a milestone for children with disabilities, civil rights, and the federal regulatory presence in education. The legislation spelled out detailed due process and administrative requirements for educating children with disabilities. The protections provided by the law were overdue, given the number of children with disabilities who received little or no schooling in the mid 1970s. At the same time, the federal government took bold new steps into the nations schools and classrooms. The tension between the principle of educational opportunity for students with disabilities, the definition and enforcement of these ri ghts by the federal government, and the cost of providing them has been continuous in the three decades since this law passed. When P.L. 94 142 passed, it was an anomaly. Like ESEA, it has been reauthorized numerous times since 1975, so some of its nove lty has worn off. Unlike ESEA, however, federal protection for the rights of children with disabilities has become more controversial over time. P.L. 94 142 and its four reauthorizations have become the classic educational unfunded mandate, thereby ful filling scattered but prescient concerns in the original debate about who would pay for the high costs of implementing the law. (Other legislators worked to reduce the federal cost so as to increase its chances of passing and surviving President Gerald R. Fords threatened veto [Anderson, 1997, pp. 78 79].) From the federal perspective, the special education mandate is a cost effective way to enforce a moral vision.
Anderson: L egacy of federal aid to education 11 For my purposes, a second cluster of anomalies stands out: P.L. 94 142s high level of federal prescriptiveness AND the nearly unanimous support it received in both chambers of Congress. Perhaps most anomalous of all, the laws momentous implications for federal interference with state and local school systems were ignored in the original debate. Several of these unusual features are present in NCLB: widespread belief that it imposes unfunded mandates on states and school systems, especially in connection with testing; a highly prescriptive approach that departs in many ways from past f ederal practice; and overwhelming support in Congress when the law was first enacted. The lesson from both episodes is that political pressure can and does overturn the ideological status quo of federal education policy. How could a legislator oppose the education of handicapped children in 1975 or leave even one child behind in 2001? Finally, recall that children with disabilities make up one of the subgroups for which adequate yearly progress must be reported under NCLB. Supporters of the new law ha ve portrayed its subgroup accountability requirements as a continuation of the federal role in protecting the civil rights of children with disabilities, English language learners, and disadvantaged students. P.L. 94 142 and ESEA set the federal civil rig hts enforcement precedents for NCLB. Establishing the Department of Education in 1979 To me, the creation of this Department [of Education] provides a potential for a centralization of the control of ideas, a potential which may or may not be realize d but one which will be latent for as long as the Department exists. And, as we all know, where there is potential for a thing to be done, there are eventually people who attempt to realize that potential for whatever purposes good or evil. -Rep. Will iam S. Moorhead (D PA), dissenting from the House Committee on Government Operations recommendation to establish the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. House of Representatives, 1979, pp. 1161 1162) By the late 1970s, the number and total size of federa l education programs had grown to such a degree that policy makers started to argue that these activities should be consolidated in a cabinet level department of education. It was also a 1976 campaign promise by Jimmy Carter to the National Education Asso ciation in exchange for its endorsement. Despite its ostensibly nonideological reorganization rationale, the proposal to create the Department of Education (ED) generated political and ideological controversy. Supporters of certain education programs did not want to alter existing relationships in the bureaucracy. Others feared that the federal government was positioning itself to take control of the schools. The 1970s Department of Education debate turned into a thoroughgoing reexamination of the feder al role as it had evolved to that point.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 24 12 Conservatives and liberals voiced several warnings about the threat of federal control during the ED debate, including detailed descriptions of the mechanism of federal domination. Sen. Harrison H. Schmitt (R NM), for example, described an alarming sequence of events leading from the Great Society to the creation of ED and to federal control through fiscal dependence. During the last decade, the Federal Government has become more and more involved in education. Wh at started out as assistance, primarily financial assistance, to State and local authorities, has emerged as de facto control through the threat of withholding funds upon which local systems had become dependent. The creation of a department of education obviously will strengthen this trend toward centralized decisionmaking in the field of education. ( Congressional Record 1978, pp. 298 299) Traditional differences between liberals and conservatives were discernible during the ED, debate but they were not as clear cut as they had been during the 1950s and s. Numerous liberal Democrats, such as Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D NY), opposed the measure, which they saw as a scheme to centralize federal education authority. Many conservatives shared this v iew. Many liberals also worried that the federal commitment to civil rights would be compromised by locating enforcement programs in an agency controlled by professional educators. (Some conservatives also claimed to have this concern.) Other conservati ves, namely Sen. Strom Thurmond (R SC), were vocal supporters of the reorganization plan (ibid., p. 374). What does the decision to establish ED tell us about the historical context of NCLB? The relationship between the two episodes is less obvious than between, say, ESEA and NCLB. Nevertheless, the connections are important. First, the NCLB measure received strong, bipartisan support. Indeed, NCLB appears to have generated less ideological and political controversy than the ED decision, making NCLB re semble the strongly supported P.L. 94 142. The relatively unpredictable behavior of Congressional liberals and conservatives with respect to the ED decision signaled the possibility that conservatives could become supporters of certain kinds of federal ed ucation policies. NCLB was advanced by a conservative president with strong, bipartisan support. Without the long track record of expanding federal involvement and the softening of traditional ideological positions during the same period, NCLB may not h ave been possible. Until recently, ED was an ideological lightning rod. Conservatives including President Ronald Reagan immediately attempted to dismantle the new department and they have only recently backed away from this goal. Signaling his intentio n to become an education activist, presidential candidate George W. Bush had to lobby to remove a plank calling for the elimination of ED from the 2000 Republican platform (Rudalevige, 2003, p. 34). Again, it was a significant development for a bona fide conservative to advocate increased federal involvement in schools.
Anderson: L egacy of federal aid to education 13 Goals 2000: Educate America Act It is really tragic that we have gotten so emotionalized in America that people actually believe Goals 2000 is part of some plot by the federal gover nment to seize control of education. Its hard to fathom how someone could be that illogical. Delegate C. Richard Cranwell, Virginia House Democrat, commenting on Republican Governor George F. Allens decision to decline Goals 2000 funds (Bradley, 1996, p. 14) Goals 2000, which passed in 1994, is an important precedent for NCLB because it introduced many of the same legislative and educational objectives as the 2001 law. Put forward by liberals and Democrats, the Goals 2000 proposal faced withering cr iticism from conservatives during the debate and after it passed. In 1996, two years after it was enacted, Congress and the Clinton administration were forced to retreat from several key provisions of the largely symbolic law. Conservatives have embraced NCLB, but it is possible that the same political and ideological controversies that gutted Goals 2000 may also pose problems for the full implementation of NCLB. The Goals 2000 legislation originated at the bipartisan Governors Education Summit in Cha rlottesville, Virginia, in 1989. There, the assembled governors set the six original national education goals. President George H. W. Bush failed to win Congressional approval for America 2000, a standards based school reform package similar to Goals 2000 Congressional Democrats and the Clinton administration were more closely aligned ideologically, and the legislation fared better. Nevertheless, Goals 2000 generated controversy during and after passage. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D MA), chair of the Com mittee on Labor and Human Resources, gave a concise rationale for S. 846, the early Senate version of the legislation that was to become Goals 2000. By codifying the National Education Goals, this legislation will strengthen our commitment to reach them. By providing for the development and certification of voluntary standards for learning in seven basic sources math, science, English, history, foreign languages, art, and geography this legislation will help to end the growing confusion about what student s should be learning in their classes. (U.S. Senate, 1993a, p. 1) The eight national education goals were codified in Title I of the final Goals 2000 law, P.L. 103 227. Title II spelled out duties of the new National Education Standards and Improveme nt Council (NESIC) and the existing National Education Goals Panel. From the standpoint of states and everyone else, Title III was most prominent because it authorized funds for state and local systemic improvement grants. Title V established the Nationa l Skills Standards Board and other workplace programs, and the Office of Educational Research and Improvement was reauthorized in Title IX. NESIC and all of Title III were the most controversial parts of Goals 2000 before and after passage of the act.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 24 14 Title IIIs provisions for state and local grants required states to submit formal plans to ED. In conjunction with the goals panel and NESIC, the department would approve these plans if they showed reasonable promise of success and reflected a standards driven school improvement strategy for all K 12 students. As a condition of receiving Goals 2000 grants, states were directed to either adopt voluntary national model curriculum and performance standards and opportunity to learn standards or strategies or devise their own. The national standards were to be certified by NESIC and approved by the goals panel. NESIC was also charged with certifying state content standards and performance assessments, if states chose to submit them. Despite assuranc es of the voluntary nature of some of these certification procedures (and the option for states to decline moneys under Title III), advocates of Goals 2000 were never able to quell objections to the laws requirements for federal approval of state curricul um, performance, and opportunity to learn standards. Some of the same controversies have dogged both Goals 2000 and NCLB. Again, it is too early to tell what effect NCLBs lingering controversies will have on full implementation of the law, but the expe rience of Goals 2000 may be instructive. For example, resource adequacy issues were contentious during both debates. Opportunity to learn standards or strategies were controversial under Goals 2000 because they would supposedly be used to determine the adequacy of state and local support for education. During the NCLB debate, many liberals criticized what they believed to be inadequate funding for Title I and other programs such as special education. Liberal (and conservative) criticism of the laws funding levels has persisted since it was enacted. Although resource issues remained controversial in the interval between Goals 2000 and NCLB, another issue accountability for results became somewhat less controversial and actually made it into the final NCLB statute. In 1994, a minority of Goals 2000 supporters wanted federal dollars to be tied to actually meeting state performance standards. Rep. Jack Reed (D RI) introduced an amendment to the House of Representatives version of the bill (H.R. 1804). He wanted to ensure that standards would be met, not just set: This provision asks States, if they choose to apply for Federal planning grants under Title III of Goals 2000, to describe in their application what they will do when a school or school syst em fails to meet the standards. ... We should not sit idly by during this reform debate and watch Federal resources go into another paper drill which will enrich educational consultants and only coincidentally help students because we do not face the tou gh question of what actions must be taken to ensure that standards are met. ( Congressional Record 1993, p. H7752) Even though Reeds amendment did not make it into the final version of the Goals 2000 law, it is worth noting that at least some legisla tors in 1994 were interested in accountability requirements with teeth. It is especially interesting to recall this aspect of the Goals 2000 debate in light of NCLBs adoption of a high stakes accountability system for schools, districts, and states.
Anderson: L egacy of federal aid to education 15 Finally, Goals 2000 demonstrates that federal education legislation can pass with political support but questionable ideological legitimacy. [Note 4] It is possible that NCLB will face the same pressures as it nears full implementation and more of its con sequences are realized. Future Congressional action to soften or repeal NCLB notwithstanding, the federal government is setting assessment policy for elementary and high schools for the first time. Some aspects of these new requirements have been seen be fore, such as the state plans and standards that were part of Goals 2000 (and the 1994 reauthorization of ESEA the Improve Americas Schools Act). NCLB took some of the voluntary elements in these 1994 laws, expanded them (e.g., by adding student testing requirements), and made them mandatory in 2001 02. Again, the new assessment policies remain controversial and it is possible that certain NCLB provisions will be repealed or softened by later Congresses. IV. How Radical a Departure is NCLB From Past Fede ral Education Policies? As we have already seen, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 both builds on and departs from previous federal education policies and principles. NCLB injected federal regulations into more schools and districts than earlier laws, in addition to setting high expectations for students and teachers. NCLB did this by putting the federal government at the center of the movement for standards based accountability. Although neither federal involvement in education nor high stakes accou ntability are new ideas, they have been combined in NCLB in important new ways. This concluding section develops two political themes and one ideological theme synthesized from the No Child Left Behind Act and the legacy of federal involvement in schools. The political themes, such as presidential leadership, illuminate some of the political issues underlying NCLB and earlier laws. The ideological theme highlights the deeper significance of NCLB in the evolution of federal education policies. NCLB is a political phenomenon with rich ideological meaning. Political Theme #1: Presidential backing of federal education laws is neither necessary nor sufficient to pass them, but it can help. This is a straightforward lesson from the history of federal ed ucation policy making (and federal policy making generally). Active presidential backing can motivate Congress to pass important education laws. President Lyndon B. Johnson campaigned on his commitment to increasing federal aid to schools and his adminis tration devised a winning formula for delivering federal dollars to virtually every school district in the country. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 also respected the tradition of limited federal involvement by earmarking the bulk of fe deral dollars to serve schools with high concentrations of poor students. Almost four decades later, George W. Bush campaigned on his commitment to education generally and on the purported gains students had made while he was governor of Texas. Two Texan s, one liberal and one conservative, made and delivered on education related campaign promises. ESEA and NCLB were touted for their
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 24 16 potential to remake the landscape of public education. Again, both laws were shaped and aided by their White House backing. Of course, presidential support is not necessary for key education laws to be passed. President Gerald R. Ford opposed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (P.L. 94 142) and would have vetoed it if it hadnt had almost unanimous suppo rt in Congress. Nor does presidential support guarantee success, as was the case with President Ronald W. Reagans desire to enact a constitutional amendment permitting school prayer in 1984. Both President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Clinton won educ ational victories in Congress (establishing a cabinet level Department of Education and passing Goals 2000, respectively), but the resulting laws came under fierce ideological attack. In the case of Goals 2000, the original law was partially overturned by a later Congress. This paper is not primarily concerned with the dynamics of presidential leadership in education, but the topic deserves further study. NCLB is a strong law that passed with strong support in Congress and the White House. However, it m ay turn out to be as ideologically or politically controversial as earlier laws once it is more fully implemented. During the 2004 presidential campaign, several Democratic presidential candidates, including most of those candidates who voted in favor of it as legislators, were very critical of NCLB. Political Theme #2: Both NCLB and P.L. 94 142 are charged with being unfunded mandates because of the mismatch between funding levels and the costs incurred by their requirements. The main point here is that the unfunded mandate charge against NCLB is not unprecedented. When P.L. 94 142 passed in 1975, it was a breathtaking expansion of federal influence over local educators. It also passed along most of its costs to states and school districts, a fa ct that received little attention when the law was enacted. Since passage, however, the law has become the poster child for unfunded mandates. The federal government has been repeatedly criticized for being unwilling to meet the funding levels originally envisioned in P.L. 94 142. The issue was debated at length during consideration of NCLB in 2001. Like P.L. 94 142, NCLB critics accused it of spawning many unfunded mandates, especially with regard to the cost of fulfilling the laws testing requiremen ts. More significantly, concerns about inadequate funding for Title I almost derailed the Senate bill, although it later passed that chamber by a huge margin. Hence, the unfunded mandate charge was leveled at NCLB more vocally than at P.L. 94 142 during the original debate. In neither case, however, has inadequate federal financing for the ambitious purposes of the original laws led to reductions in their reach. Over the past 29 years, it has become more acceptable for the implementation costs of federa l education policies to be passed down to states and school districts. (This phenomenon contrasts sharply with the entitlement flavor of federal aid beginning in the 1960s. In the context of the federal entitlement environment, it is worth noting that P. L. 94 142 and NCLB were ideological and regulatory anomalies when they were first enacted.)
Anderson: L egacy of federal aid to education 17 Ideological Theme: Over time, there has been a gradual weakening of the traditional ideological divisions between liberals and conservatives in Congress with rega rd to federal education aid. The weakening of these divisions has both obvious and not so obvious implications for NCLB. Consider, for example, the similarities between P.L. 94 142 and NCLB in the previous theme. Both laws passed by huge margins, and with the support of legislators in both parties. A related but subtler fact is that very few conservative legislators opposed either law. That is, both laws represented significant expansions of federal authority for education, yet they were not widely op posed on ideological grounds. Now consider the bruising debate of President Carters proposal to establish ED. Several liberal legislators opposed the creation of ED and at least one conservative registered his enthusiastic support for the measure. Ta ken together, the bipartisan roster of ED foes demonstrate that liberals and conservatives can argue against excessive federal involvement in schools. Similarly, conservatives can support the expansion of federal action, as demonstrated by the votes on P. L. 94 142 and NCLB. Finally, notice a few things about NCLB. A handful of prominent liberals [e.g., Sen. James Jeffords (I VT)] opposed NCLB on political grounds. Another handful of conservatives [e.g., Rep. Tom DeLay (R TX)] opposed the law on ideolo gical grounds. (For the final NCLB vote in the House and Senate, see Congressional Record 2001, p. H10112 and p. S13422, respectively.) Nevertheless, the strong support by conservatives for NCLB is powerful evidence that the rhetorical truism of limite d federal involvement in schools has been either temporarily or permanently overturned. A generation earlier, both liberals and conservatives would have been much more likely to emphasize the need for limits to the federal presence in schools. Moreover, conservative support for a law like NCLB would have been inconceivable. The weakening of traditional ideological positions on federal education questions disrupted the balance between the federal government involving itself too much or too little in the n ations schools. The ideological tension between conservative support for limited federal involvement and liberal support for certain types of federal action in schools was a constructive force. It is likely that the excesses of NCLB are due to the earli er success of liberals in expanding the scope of appropriate federal action in schools AND to the gradual acquiescence of conservatives to this expansion. Of course, there are still types of federal action that are ideologically out of bounds. NCLB s ponsors, for example, were unable to pass the block grant and private school voucher components of the original bill. (Both vouchers and block grants are very appealing to conservatives.) Likewise, liberals were also unable to obtain federal funds for sc hool construction projects and class size reduction. The long term viability of the controversial features of NCLB is still being determined, and ED has already loosened certain regulations relating to highly qualified teachers in rural areas, testing p articipation rates for students, and the participation of English Language Learners in mandated testing. Does conservative support for the expansion of federal influence over schools mean that conservatives have abandoned their principles? Not necessa rily. In response to
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 24 18 several decades of steadily increasing federal aid to schools, conservatives have supplemented their earlier warnings of federal control with other principles. In the case of NCLB, these principles included fiscal conservatism genera lly and not throwing good money after bad. Once NDEA and ESEA breached the ramparts of effective opposition to federal aid, conservatives could (and did) invoke the track record of federal spending in later debates. Conservatives and Republicans portray ed the results of the decades of spending under ESEA in an extremely negative light as a justification for adding an unprecedented high stakes accountability component to NCLB. A newer conservative principle giving taxpayers at all levels their moneys wo rth has overshadowed the nostalgic preference for limited federal involvement. Notes Some of the historical research reported in this paper was conducted for my dissertation at the School of Education at Stanford University (Anderson, 1997). I wish t o thank Daniel Humphrey of SRI International and Kara S. Finnigan of the University of Rochester for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.  Liberal and conservative labels are best defined in relation to each other. For example, s ome researchers rely on annually calculated liberal quotients from the liberal interest group Americans for Democratic Action to place individual legislators on a continuum running from 0 (most conservative) to 100 (most liberal). For analyses of ADA sc ores for several of the episodes described in this paper, see Anderson (1997).  Aid to colleges and college students was more widely accepted at the time. Recall the popularity of the Veterans Readjustment Act of 1944 (better known as the G.I. Bill ).  In the 1965 law, poverty was operationalized as an extremely broad category, thereby distributing Title I funds to every state and congressional district, virtually every county, and the vast majority of the nations school districts (Meranto, 196 7, p. 5). The broad distribution of Title I funds remains one of the laws most attractive features to legislators and educators alike.  Another example of a short lived federal education policy was the establishment of a cabinet level Department of Education in 1867. The proposal passed but concerns about federal control persisted and the department was downgraded the following year to a bureau in the Department of the Interior (Lee, 1949, pp. 21 28; Peskin, 1973).
Anderson: L egacy of federal aid to education 19 References Anderson, L. W. (1 997). Ideology and the politics of federal aid to education: 1958 1996 Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University. (UMI/ProQuest No. AAT 9723318) Bailey, S. K., & Mosher, E. K. (1968). ESEA: The Office of Education administers a law. Syr acuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Bradley, A. (1996, April 24). Va. Governor victorious in rejecting Goals 2000. Education Week, vol. 15, no, 31, 14. Carlson, T. E. (1959), Guide to the National Defense Education Act of 1958. (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Circular No, 553.) Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Center on Education Policy (2004, January). From the capital to the classroom: Year 2 of the No Child Left Behind Act. Washington, DC: Author. Congressi onal Record (1958). 85 th Cong., 2 nd Sess., (104: pt 13). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office Congressional Record (1965). 89 th Cong., 1 st Sess., (111: pts. 5, 6, 17). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Congressional Record (1978). 95 th Cong., 2d Sess., (124). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. (Reprinted in U.S. Senate (1980). Legislative history of Public Law 96 88: Department of Education Organization Act. 96 th Cong., 2d Sess., pt. 1. Committee on Gov ernmental Affairs. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Pagination refers to Legislative history .) Congressional Record (1993). 103d Cong., 1 st Sess., (139, unbound no. 137 [October 13]). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Congressional Record (2001). 107 th Cong., 1 st Sess., (147, unbound nos. 54 [April 26], 81 [June 12], 173 [December 14], 176 [December 18]). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Eidenberg, E., & Morey, R. D. (1969). An act of Congress: Th e legislative process and the making of educational policy New York: W. W. Norton. Elazar, D. J. (1962). The American Partnership: Intergovernmental Co operation in the Nineteenth Century United States Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ford, G R. (1975, December 2). Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975: Statement by the President upon signing the bill into law, while expressing reservations about certain of its provisions. Weekly compilation of Presidential documents,
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Anderson: L egacy of federal aid to education 21 About the Author Lee Anderson 6 Bergesen Court Atherton, CA 94027 leewand@p acbell.net Lee Anderson is an independent researcher in California. From 1990 to 2004 he was an education policy analyst in the Center for Education Policy at SRI International in Menlo Park, CA. Andersons research interests include federal education policy; charter school accountability; and ideological influences on educational research, practice, and politics.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 24 22 Education Policy Analysis Archives http://epaa.asu.edu Editor: Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Product ion Assistant: Chris Murrell, Arizona State University General questions about appropriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Sherman Dorn, epaa editor@shermando rn .com EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin David C. Berliner Arizona State University Greg Camilli Rutge rs University Linda Darling Hammond Stanford University Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Gustavo E. Fischman Arizona State Univeristy Richard Garlikov Birmingham, Alabama Gene V Glass Arizona State University Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachi a Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Ontario Institute of Technology Patricia Fey Jarvis Seattle, Washington Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs Pugh Green Mountain College Les McLean University of Toronto Heinrich Mintrop University of California, Berkeley Michele Moses Arizona State University Gary Orfield Harvard University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue Un iversity Jay Paredes Scribner University of Missouri Michael Scriven Western Michigan University Lorrie A. Shepard University of Colorado, Boulder Robert E. Stake University of Illinois UC Kevin Welner U niversity of Colorado, Boulder Terrence G. Wiley Arizona State University John Willinsky University of British Columbia
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