Which US president was most responsible for education reform? Lyndon Johnson was an educator when he was young, and he believed in education for all. In 1965, he signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which funded special education centers and provided grants to low-income schools. His education reforms included the Head Start program, which began as a preschool for low-income families and later expanded to help kids with disabilities. Head Start now serves over 32 million kids and prepares them for kindergarten.
During the time of the Great Depression, many people felt disenchanted with public education. They linked the decline of the economy to poor education. Reagan initially tried to defund the Department of Education, but eventually commissioned a cabinet-level panel to review education. The panel was called the National Commission on Excellence in Education, and included representatives of many political parties and a variety of backgrounds. The report ultimately led to the creation of the U.S. Department of Education.
As a post-partisan education reformer, Obama took on many of the education reforms that Republicans and Democrats had opposed during his tenure as president. The Department of Education’s appointees were smart, talented people outside the Beltway bubble. He championed charter schools, tussled with teacher unions, and went after schools of education. His education reforms include cutting red tape, reducing the paper burden on school districts, and making evidence more important in funding decisions.
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