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.

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Goals 2000: Educate America Act

President William J Clinton signed the Goals 2000 Educate America Act (P.L. 103-227; 108 Stat. 125) on March 31, 1994.

The law had many aspects, not least was its aim to “provide a framework for meeting the National Education Goals,” which included ensuring “all children will start school ready to learn,” a high school graduation rate of “at least” 90%, and more.  All of these goals were to be achieved by the year 2000.

The full text of the Goals 2000 Educate America Act is accessible in the window below, and you also can see and download it at

National Defense Education Act of 1958

The National Defense Education Act of 1958  (P.L. 85-864; 72 Stat. 1580) became law on September 2, 1958.  This federal policy largely targeted collegiate education, authorizing both National Defence Fellowships and loans for students.

The National Defence Education Act (NDEA) also provided funds to state educational agencies for the purposes of improving the teaching of science, mathematics, and “modern foreign languages” (e.g., Russian, not Latin).  Thus, the NDEA was the first major federal foray into K-12 curricula since the Smith-Hughes Vocational Education Act of 1917.

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Department of Education Organization Act, 1979

The U.S. established a Department of Education first in 1867.  This original department, however, was not a cabinet level agency, and within a few years was replaced with a bureau and then an office.

On October 17, 1979 President James E. Carter signed the Department of Education Organization Act (P.L. 96-88; 93 Stat. 668).  It replaced the Office of Education with a department proper, and installed a secretary at its head.

Impact Aid, 1950

The Lanham Act (P.L. 849; 54 Stat. 1125) became law on October 14, 1940. The Lanham Act was amended (P.L. 137; 55 Stat. 361) on June 28, 1941, and the words “schools” was added to the definition of the term “public work.”

These wartime measures were replaced by two laws known as Impact Aid, P.L. 81-815; 64 Stat. 967 (September 23, 1950), and P.L. 81-874; 64 Stat. 1100 (September 30, 1950). These laws fortified the federal policy of providing federal aid to schooling in areas affected by federal governmental activities (e.g., defense installations).

Below are copies of the Lanham Act, the revised Lanham Act (1941), and the two Impact Aid acts (1950).

Lanham Act (1940)

Lanham Act (1941)

Impact Aid