Race, religion, and reds -- Making history : the passage of ESEA -- Putting down roots, 1965-1968 -- How much? budget battles, 1969-1977 -- Ending massive resistance : the federal government and southern school desegregation, 1964-1970 -- Education reform in the Nixon administration : the case of bilingual education -- Transforming special education : the genesis of the Education For All Handicapped Children Act -- Compensatory education through the courts : the politics of school finance -- Teacher power : Carter, NEA, and the creation of the Department of Education -- Education and the Reagan revolution
Martha Derthick, one of the nation's foremost scholars of federalism and public administration, died on January 12. Gareth Davies, one of her former students, reflects here on her intellectual legacy, especially as reflected in her publications, but also, more briefly, on her approach to mentoring.
During the mid-1960s, the governments of the United States and Canada each declared "war" on poverty. The former venture has received far greater scholarly attention, and for obvious reasons: its high-profile inception, the broader spirit of Great Society liberalism that it embodied, the profound crisis of American society and politics within which it soon became embroiled, the rapidity with which its prescriptions and hopes were extinguished. By comparison, the Canadian War on Poverty seems an unimportant venture, and one that lacks the stuff of which drama is made. It has, accordingly, been neglected by scholars on both sides of the 49th parallel.
Scholars assessing Richard Nixon's contribution to the desegregation of Southern schools have often been unimpressed. His biographer Stephen Ambrose concedes that there was some White House contribution, but observes that "Nixon had to be hauled kicking and screaming into desegregation on a meaningful scale, and he did what he did not because it was right but because he had no choice." The political scientist Michael Genovese concurs, telling us that Nixon sought to "withdraw the federal government from its efforts at desegregation." A recent civil rights dictionary concludes that this was "the first successful presidential candidate to be opposed to civil rights enforcement," adding that "many of his tactics thwarted the furthering of school desegregation." The noted civil rights historian, William Chafe, meanwhile, contends that "Nixon repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to the politics of polarization"; "continued to embrace" southern evasions that "had been invalidated by the Supreme Court"; and used "the power of the presidency to delay, if not halt completely, federally imposed school desegregation." And Kevin O'Reilly, in an overview of presidential leadership on civil rights, finds the 37th president to have been essentially indistinguishable from the race-baiting George Wallace. Nixon resented the Alabamian, he reveals, because "he wanted the gutter all to himself." Considering a number of contenders, he concludes that "school desegregation emerged as the administration's most important and enduring (anti)civil rights crusade."