Introduction: Federal Aid to Education, 1785-1900
It is important to note at the outset that, while the federal role in education has expanded rapidly since World War II, the basic idea of federal aid to education is, in fact, nearly as old as the republic itself. In 1785, two years after the end of the Revolutionary War, the Congress of Confederation passed the first of two Northwest Ordinances, which reserved 1/36 th of the land allocated to each western township "for the maintenance of public schools within the said township." Two years later, in 1787, the recently convened Constitutional Convention passed the second Northwest Ordinance, which reaffirmed the purpose of the first. However, since the Convention left all explicit mention of education out of the new Constitution itself, some have speculated that it saw schooling exclusively as a state or local issue-left, under the Tenth Amendment, as an unenumerated power reserved "to the states . . . or to the people."