To understand and make an educated decision we need to under stand the history of the federal role in education. The original Department of Education was created in 1867 to collect information on schools and teaching that would help the States establish effective school systems. While the agency's name and location within the Executive Branch have changed over the past 130 years, this early importance on getting information on what works in education to teachers and education policymakers continues down to the present day.
The passage of the Second Morrill Act in 1890 gave the then-named Office of Education responsibility for managing support for the original system of land-grant colleges and universities. Vocational education became the next major area of Federal aid to schools, with the 1917 Smith-Hughes Act and the 1946 George-Barden Act focusing on undeveloped, industrial, and home economics training for high school students.
World War II led to a major expansion of Federal support for education. The Lanham Act in 1941 and the Impact Aid laws of 1950 eased the load on communities affected by the presence of military and other Federal installations by making payments to school districts. And in 1944, the "GI Bill" authorized postsecondary education assistance that would ultimately send nearly 8 million World War II veterans to college.
The Cold War motivated the first example of widespread Federal education legislation, when in 1958 Congress passed the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) in reaction to the Soviet launch of Sputnik. To help make sure that highly trained persons would be available to help America compete with the Soviet Union in scientific and technical fields, the NDEA included support for loans to college students, the improvement of science, mathematics, and foreign language instruction in elementary and secondary schools, graduate fellowships, foreign language and area studies, and vocational-technical training.
The anti-poverty and...