Our 70-Year School Lunch Food Fight

A school lunchNote: A version of this article was previously published by Politico on March 17, 2016.

Should school kids have more fish on their lunch trays? That is just one of the questions that will need to be settled before the National School Lunch Act is reauthorized. Republican Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski —of Alaska, not coincidentally— think they should. They introduced their salmon-for-school bill in late February.

The law currently defines “domestic commodity” to mean “an agricultural commodity that is produced in the United States” and “a food product that is processed in the United States substantially using agricultural commodities that are produced in the United States.” S. 2529 would expand this “buy American” provision to also mean “a fish or fish product” harvested the United States’ “exclusive economic zone,” much of which surrounds Alaska.

Sen. Murkowski with a salmon.

If adopted, the measure would force local school officials’ to purchase fewer fish sticks from foreign waters. With 30 million children participating in the $13 billion lunch program, the fish bill could be a windfall. “I’m proud to join my colleagues to support this legislation, giving us the opportunity to put more of Alaska’s world-class, sustainably-harvested seafood onto the plates of America’s youth nationwide,” declared Murkowski.

The legislation’s arrival may well have elicited groans within the Russell building, which houses the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Just a month earlier, the committee had reported its 210-page bill, which reauthorizes the school lunch act and the complimentary childhood nutrition act. Continue reading “Our 70-Year School Lunch Food Fight”

National Education Goals Panel, Mathematics and Science Achievement State by State, 1998

Source: Kevin R. Kosar
Source: Kevin R. Kosar

This and many other 1990s-era NEGP studies are available at http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/negp/reports/goal3_98.htm and http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/002579549.

For background on NEGP, see https://federaleducationpolicy.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/the-national-education-goals-reports-1991-1999/.

National Assessment of Chapter 1 Independent Review Panel, Reinventing Chapter 1

Source: Kevin R. Kosar
Source: Kevin R. Kosar

The full title of this important 1993 Department of Education study is: Reinventing Chapter 1: The current Chapter 1 Program and New Directions: Final Report of the National Assessment of the Chapter 1 Program.

This report examines the Chapter 1 program’s impact at school and classroom levels, strategic directions for Chapter 1 reauthorization, the larger context of school poverty as it influences Chapter 1 delivery, the operation and effectiveness of Chapter 1, and new directions for improving Chapter 1 in line with national reforms. How well Chapter 1 responds to Congress’s intent in 1988 and adds to the educational progress of disadvantaged students is measured against the six National Education Goals. Part 1 compares high- and low-poverty schools in terms of their students’ needs, school service delivery, and school outcomes to establish the context for how Chapter 1 is affected by the degree of school poverty. Part 2 describes current program funding and targeting, student participation and performance, instructional services, schoolwide projects, staff development, family involvement and Even Start, special service arrangements for students in religious schools and migrant children, student assessment and program improvement, and assistance for improved performance. Part 3 describes new policy directions as a framework for reinventing the program. Included are: 53 exhibits; 4 appendixes which contain a list of supplementary volumes to the first report of National Assessment of Chapter 1 Program, a list of studies conducted for the National Assessment, the statute requiring a national assessment of Chapter 1 and a list of independent review panel presenters.

Chapter 1 (now Title 1) is THE major federal grant program for K-12, and this report shows how the thinking was evolving towards performance-based ed policy.

A full copy of the final report can be downloaded in PDF format at https://ia801403.us.archive.org/35/items/ERIC_ED355329/ERIC_ED355329.pdf.

Federal Education Policy and Politics: Federalism and More

Source: Politico.com
Source: Politico.com

In this article for Politico, I show how federalism has fostered a chronic ideological battle around the federal role in schooling. “The Constitution didn’t authorize the federal government to make schools policy. It is not among the enumerated powers in Article I section 8, and the 10th Amendment reserves powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution to the states and the people….” (Read more at Politico.com)

The below 1963 Herblock comic exhibits other aspects of the perennial politics of education: spending concerns, and the notion that federal school aid can and should reverse the effects of poverty and crime. (The comic is notably liberal—depicting the opponent of federal aid as old and and histrionic.)

Source: Library of Congress
Source: Library of Congress

Department of Education Abolition Act of 1868

Source: Statutes at Large
Source: Statutes at Large

It is a little known fact that the Department of Education was first established in 1867. Rep. James A. Garfield (R-OH) sponsored the legislation. The legislation authorized a mere three employees and its duties were few but not insignificant. President Andrew Johnson signed it.

Continue reading “Department of Education Abolition Act of 1868”

Bureau of Indian Affairs Schools Records

Source: NARA.gov
Source: NARA.gov

The National Archives and Record Administration has the records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which operated schools for American Indians. The archival holdings are listed at: http://www.archives.gov/research/native-americans/bia-guide/schools.html. The federal government started making education policy for American Indians as early as 1819 with the Indian Civilization Act, which authorized funds to be granted to religious and private groups to school American Indians. (On the boarding schools, see here.) Eventually, the U.S. government itself via the Department of the Interior’s BIA began operating its own schools.


Recommended Books On Federal Education Policy History

Have suggested titles? Please e-mail me at: kevinrkosar [at] gmail.com !

Gareth Davies See Government Grow

Francis Adams, The Free School System of the United States (London, 1875)

David L. Angus and Jeffrey E. Mirel, The Failed Promise of the American High School, 1890-1995 (New York: Teachers College Press, April 1999)

David K. Cohen and Susan L. Moffit, The Ordeal of Equality: Did Federal Regulation Fix the Schools? (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009)

Gareth Davies, See Government Grow: Education Politics from Johnson to Reagan (University of Kansas Press, 2007)

Continue reading “Recommended Books On Federal Education Policy History”