Education Policy

Learn about African-American involvement in U.S. education policy and trace the important milestones in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

Educational Reform and the CBC: Spotlight on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

African-American legislators have long understood the relationship between education and social advancement in the United States. Since its inception, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has taken a leading role in shaping education legislation and reform. Paying specific attention to the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), its amendments and its reauthorizations, this exhibit traces how African Americans in Congress have participated in the transformation of education for all students.

Prior to the establishment of the CBC, African American Representatives Adam Clayton Powell, Augustus Hawkins and others rallied to ensure that educational equality would be afforded to underrepresented minorities. These members of Congress held powerful positions on Congressional committees and used their influence to advance the cause of Civil Rights.

Since then, CBC members have continued that legacy, introducing progressive educational amendments and legislation in committee and on the floor. They have taken an active role in the sometimes contentious debates around education and its reform, demonstrating their sustained commitment to ensuring that all students have access to a quality public education. These members continue to weigh in on the ESEA and its revision, including one of the more recent reauthorizations, No Child Left Behind Act (H.R. 1).


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