Given its power to dictate policy, many Americans think the federal government does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to funding K-12 education, but it doesn’t. Instead, that’s left up to the states and local communities. For instance, back in 2012-13, elementary and secondary schooling cost taxpayers about $1.15 trillion. Of that amount, the federal government contributed just 8% vs. 92% from non-federal sources.

Leading up to all that…

The first Department of Education was established back in 1867 “to collect information on schools and teaching that would help the States establish effective school systems.” Sound familiar?

From there, came:

  • The Second Morrill Act in 1890 making the then-named Office of Education responsible for administering the original system of land grant colleges and universities.
  • The 1917 Smith Hughes Act under which vocational education came under its supervision.

With WWII came even greater federal support for education arriving in the form of…

  • The Lanham Act of 1941 and the Impact Aid Laws of 1950 which helped by making payments to communities with military personnel and other federal installations.
  • The 1944 “GI Bill” which ultimately sent some 8 million veterans to college.

Then, because of the Cold War and the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) for training in the science, technical, and foreign language fields was passed to help make us competitive.

Anti-poverty and civil rights laws followed in the ‘60s and 70’s, leading to such laws as:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 putting the Department of Education front and center in the fight against discrimination based on race, sex, and disability.
  • The comprehensive 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, including the Title I program providing federal aid for kids in poor urban and rural areas.
  • The 1965 Higher Education Act offering such things as financial aid programs for needy college students.

It was not until 1980, however, that, thanks to Congress, the Department of Education became a cabinet level agency, affecting all aspects and levels of education, serving more than 50 million students in some 98,000 public and 32,000 private schools.

Oh, yes, for fiscal 2019, the department’s budget stands at $71.5 billion, a $581 million increase over fiscal 2018, and $2.6 billion more than fiscal 2017.

And there you have it…  With my many thanks, Carol