Harvard Educational Review
  1. Winter 1982 Issue »

    The Federal Role in Elementary and Secondary Education, 1940-1980

    Carl F. Kaestle and Marshall S. Smith
    One of the central dynamics of American educational history is the long-range trend from local and parental schooling arrangements to increasing government funding and centralized control. The trend does not represent simply a benign process of modernization and improvement. Centralization has exacted costs and elicited fierce opposition. In the nineteenth century there were two key developments in this trend: the involvement of state governments in encouraging and regulating schooling, and the consolidation of small local districts into larger, townwide systems. Advocates of local control and nonpublic schooling who opposed these initial steps in the creation of state school systems voiced their objections in much the same terms as opponents of federal involvement do today. Notwithstanding, town-level consolidation and increasing state involvement continued into the twentieth century. Today Americans in both rural and urban areas are accustomed to centralized school districts, detailed state supervision, and substantial state financial aid for education. Curriculum, financial decisionmaking, teacher preparation and licensing, length of the annual school session—all are subject to state regulation. Opponents may contest individual policies and decry excessive bureaucracy, but the general role of the states in financing and regulating school districts' educational practices is widely accepted.

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    Winter 1982 Issue


    The Federal Role in Education
    T.H. Bell
    The Federal Role in Elementary and Secondary Education, 1940-1980
    Carl F. Kaestle and Marshall S. Smith
    The Federal Role in American Indian Education
    Frank Anthony Ryan
    The Federal Role in Increasing Equality of Educational Opportunity
    Kenneth S. Tollett
    Federal Grants and Educational Equity
    Henry M. Levin
    Policy and Organization
    The Impact of State and Federal Educational Policy on School Governance
    David K. Cohen
    The Importance of the Federal Role in Improving Educational Practice
    Lessons from a Big-City School System
    Thomas K. Minter
    The Federal Role in Educational Improvement
    Brenda J. Turnbull
    The Federal Role in Educational Research
    P. Michael Timpane
    The Role of the States in Federal Education Programs
    Milbrey Wallin McLaughlin
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