"The education of our children is vital to the future of the United States. From the start, our Founding Fathers knew that ignorance and free government could not coexist. Our Nation has acted from the beginning on the sound principle that control over our schools should remain at the State and local level. Nothing could be more destructive of the diversity of thought and opinion necessary for National progress than an excess of control by the central government."

President Ford

March 1, 1976

"Our schools are no better than we make them. They can provide a solid educational foundation for our children. They can provide a training ground for leadership development. They can offer an opportunity for expanded technical knowledge and cultural enrichment through continued education. They can become a center for community involvement. But the future our schools provide is in large measure dependent upon our involvement."

President Ford

May 10, 1975

It is President Ford's concern, above all else, that all Americans receive a quality education.

Major Revisions of and Reform of Existing Education Programs

President Ford believes that public education is primarily a state and local responsibility. The Federal government helps, however, to assure that children with special needs, such as the handicapped and disadvantaged, receive an equal educational opportunity. President Ford has proposed four major efforts in the field of education for 1977:

The major vehicle for reform will be the Financial Assistance for Elementary and Secondary Education Act which was submitted to the Congress in March, 1976. In addition to the major consolidation noted above, this legislation would:

The Handicapped

Funds will be allocated to States on a formula basis. Three-quarters of the Federal funds will have to be used to serve the disadvantaged and the handicapped. The remaining quarter may be spent on any program consistent with the purposes of the programs consolidated in the block grant.

Public Participation

The Act will require state plans to be developed with full public participation. Each State will have to certify that funds ($2.5 billion) will have been used for purposes required by the law and consistent with the State plan. Actual use of funds will be verified by an independent audit to be conducted by the State.

Non-Discrimination, Non-Public School

The Act will also require that to receive funds the State may not discriminate against a participant on the basis of race, sex, national origin or handicapping conditions.

In addition, non-public school children will continue to be served on an equitable basis as under the program to be consolidated.

Elementary and Secondary Education

By law and tradition, State and local governments have the responsibility for providing free and universal public education. Over time, the Federal Government has furnished increasing assistance to State and local governments to support elementary and secondary education. The Federal government today supports about 7% of the total cost of elementary and secondary education. The bulk of that support is channeled through numerous narrow categorical programs. The Federal effort has helped to assure that children with special needs receive an equal educational opportunity.

However, Federal assistance has also led to the promulgation of layers of rules and regulations and to the impositions of administrative burdens at the local level which are unrelated to the development of programs of quality education. Although Federal, State and local efforts overlap, the rules often earmark Federal funds for specified, often narrow purposes. As a result the test often becomes not whether children are helped, but whether the State or community meets the rules. As the President has noted:

"Too often we have fund [found] ourselves asking whether Federal forms have been properly filled out, not whether children have been properly educated."

Emergency School Aid

President Ford has requested continued financial assistance to those school districts that are in the process of eliminating discrimination. Increased support will be provided for Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which will provide greater advisory support and technical assistance to help educational institutions move toward equality of educational opportunity.

Reform of Impact Aid Program

Recognizing that Federal activities provide an economic benefit to host communities, President Ford has proposed reform of the Impact Aid Program. These reforms would limit Federal aid to those school-districts where free education is provided for children whose parents both live and work on Federal property. Since Federal property is exempt from local taxes, these families do not contribute to the cost fo [of] education as other families do, and Federal contributions are therefore fully justified. This proposal will save nearly $285 million in 1977 and approximately $330 million in 1978.

Higher Education

Two principles underlie President Ford's support for the provision of Federal funds for higher education:

President Ford's budget for FY 77 provides $6.3 billion for higher education, including $4.3 billion for the G.I. Bill. This will provide assistance to approximately 2.4 million students enrolled in colleges, universities and other post-secondary institutions across the country. The budget also proposes:

Budget Outlays for Education

Substantial Federal educationally related expenditures are directed toward activities whose purposes are not primarily educational. The Federal Government invests in specialized education for many activities, the largest of which is defense related and the second largest is in the health field. An estimated $8.7 billion in outlays will be provided in 1977 which indirectly benefit education, but are directed toward other purposes.

In 1977 total Federal outlays for education are estimated to be $18.2 billion. By general category these are estimated to be:

Other Actions

In other actions since taking office, President Ford, in 1974, signed H.R. 69 which extended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the impact aid laws, the Adult Education Act, the Bilingual Education Act, and the Indian Educational Act through Fiscal Year 1977, and the Emergency School Aid Act through Fiscal Year 1976.

Provisions of that Act:


The President has stated that he is firmly opposed to the use of court-ordered busing as a means of achieving racial balance in our schools. Nonetheless, he has repeated his intention to enforce the laws of the country and the order of the Courts as is his Constitutional duty.

The President has stated that ". . . without any hesitation or qualification . . . if the Court says something has to be done, it will be done, as far as this Administration is concerned."

It is President Ford's concern, above all else, that all Americans receive a quality education.

To help alleviate some of the burden imposed by court-ordered busing, and to explore better ways to bring a quality education while upholding the law and the courts, the President has:

In a February 3, 1976 interview, President Ford discussed his support of the Esch Amendment which he recently signed into law:

. . . I am against segregation. I believe that we have to move forward in the area of desegregation but I think we can do it in a better way than has been tried under some of the court orders in various cities in our country.

The way I would recommend is for the courts to utilize what is called the Esch Amendment. It was legislation passed by the Congress which I signed that lists the steps that should be taken by the courts in seeking to achieve desegregation and to accomplish quality education. And busing is the last of the seven steps that should be taken by the courts.

School Desegregation Standards and Assistance Act

In June 1976, after months of study by Administration officials and meetings by the President with large numbers of concerned groups, the President sent to Congress the School Desegregation Standards and Assistance Act.

In his message of transmittal, the President noted that:

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