Federal Acts and Court Cases Involving Federal Role in Public Education



Land Ordinance & Northwest Ordinance


Required a system of public education to be established in each township formed under a specified formula. Regulated monies raised via selling or renting land, or taxes.

Early philosophy – first six presidents

1790 - 1820

Discussed a national university and urged federal involvement in public education. Seen as critical to preparation for citizenship in a republican form of government.

Land Grants


Congress granted 77+ million acres of land in the public domain as endowments for support of schools. Federal government also granted surplus money to states for public education.

First Morrill Act otherwise known as the Land Grant Act


Donated public lands to states to be used for the endowment to support and maintain at least one college with specific purpose of teaching agriculture, mechanic arts and industrial education.

The original Department (Office) of Education established


Began to collect data – information on schools and teaching that would help states establish effective school systems.

Second Morrill Act


Gave the Office of Education responsibility for administering support for the original system of land-grant colleges.

Smith-Hughes Act


Promoted vocational schools. Repealed 1997.

Lanham Act


Eased the burden on communities affected by presence of military and federal installations through payments to school districts.

GI Bill


Provided post secondary education assistance to GIs returning from WW II.

George-Barden Act


Provided funding for agricultural, industrial and home economics training for high school students.

Impact Aid laws



Eased the burden on communities affected by presence of military and federal installations through payments to school districts.

National Defense Education Act


In response to Soviet Sputnik. NDEA included support for loans to college students in science, mathematics and foreign languages.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act


Established comprehensive set of programs, including Title I of federal aid to disadvantaged.

Title IX


Prohibited discrimination in education based on gender.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act


Prohibited discrimination based on disability.

Department of Education made a cabinet level agency


Recognized the important role of public education.

Nation at Risk


Published report indicating that the United States was falling behind in education achievement.

Educational Testing Service (ETS)


Federal government transferred responsibility for administering the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to ETS.

President G.H. Bush

1989 - 1992

“Indian Education Bill of Rights”
K-12 Drug awareness model.
Advisory committee on Hispanic education.
America 2000 education reform program.
Work began on national standards.

President W. Clinton

1993 - 1999

Academics 2000 offered grants to states and local school districts for innovative programs.

President G.W. Bush

2001 - 2008

Reauthorization of ESEA –No Child Left Behind.

President Barack Obama


President Obama’s Blueprint for Reform – Reauthorization of ESEA.
Race to the Top: Grants awarded to states with innovative ideas that accepted the Common Core Standards.