In 1867, Congress established a national Department of Education to collect and provide information to promote school improvement. Education soon lost its cabinet-level status, and federal education-related functions passed over time to a variety of agencies. The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of a federal role in education, and states have continuously argued that education is their responsibility. Until the mid-1960s, the role of the federal government expanded gradually, with the primary purpose being to pass funds from the national level to states, districts, and higher education.

In the 1960s, federal programs to reduce poverty and protect civil rights resulted in a dramatic increase in federal funding for education and regulations to ensure that the rights of racial minorities were protected. In the 1970s, the ...

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