Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors
United States. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, Educational vouchers -- United States -- Case studies, Segregation in education -- United States, Educational equalization -- Law and legislation -- United States
This thesis addresses the attempts made by the U.S. federal government to test education vouchers during the late 1960s and 1970s in response to the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Specifically, it will examine the demonstration at Alum Rock Elementary School District in eastern San Jose, California from 1972-76, and the two subsequent efforts which failed to make it past the planning stages in East Hartford, Connecticut and the state of New Hampshire from 1973-76. I will argue that all three voucher experiments planned or implemented by the federal government during the 1970s failed as a direct result of a Great Society context which emphasized regulation and compensatory funding, as well as the historical usage of vouchers by segregationists.
In order to prove this argument, I will emphasize the way that fears concerning segregation, as well as the efficacy of vouchers in relation to pre-existing education models were at the forefront of the critiques made against vouchers by federal legislators, state and city governments, and local school district populations in all three cases. First, I will clarify the segregationist background of vouchers by examining the attempts by Virginians to use vouchers as a means to continue segregated education inPrinceEdwardCountyfrom 1956-1969. In the second and third sections, I will show how these ideas concerning vouchers on behalf of segregationists were adopted and reshaped by academic and religious figures during the second half of the 1960s in a way that would appeal to the Johnson and Nixon administrations. In the final two sections, I will discuss the three experiments and show how they were deemed unnecessary at both the federal and local levels. I will conclude with a discussion of why education vouchers today are no longer seen as a revolutionary force in education capable of replacing the ESEA.
Robins, Simon, "A Free-Market Response to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: The Segregationist Background and Failed Experimentation of Education Vouchers in the 1970s" (2014). University Honors Theses. Paper 83.