Education Policy: Research:

Historical Overview Essay

Federal Education Policy and the States, 1941-2009 (PDF format, 83 pages)

Very little research has specifically addressed the impact of states on federal policy. This essay is intended to provide historical context for such research and to serve as a resource for scholars, teachers, students, policymakers, advocates, and others interested in education policy.

Drawing on secondary sources and the personal knowledge of the advisors to the States' Impact on Federal Education Policy Project, the essay presents a balanced recounting of key events and issues in education policy. It is neither a complete history of the topic nor an interpretive work of original scholarship.

Table of Contents



The Eisenhower Years

The Kennedy Years

The Johnson Years

The Nixon Years

The Ford Years

The Carter Years

The Reagan Years

The George H. W. Bush Years

The Clinton Years

The George W. Bush Years

The Obama Years


Credits and Acknowledgements

Footnotes: The PDF version of this essay contains extensive footnotes that include numerous citations and supplementary text. For ease of reading, the footnotes are omitted from this version.

Organizations: Links to many of the organizations mentioned in this essay.

Federal Education Policymakers, 1941-2005 (PDF format, 18 pages).  While reading the essay, you may also want to refer to this document. Organized by presidential administration, it provides political "snapshots" that summarize the context for education policymaking: congressional leadership, relevant committees, key administration officials, and policy actions. It also includes links to the personal papers and other information about many of the leaders.