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Debate Flares Up: Was the First Federal Education Law a Civil Rights Statute?

If you’ve been following our coverage of Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., you’ve read his remarks that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 was “a civil rights law.” And so is that law’s latest version, the Every Student Succeeds Act, King says. He’s used that civil-rights language often to support how the U.S. Department of Education has approached spending and accountability issues, among other things.

  And King’s not the only one to talk about the law this way. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, for example, refers to the first version of ESEA as a civil rights law.