Federal Compensatory Education Programs of the 1960s: The Implementation of Head Start and Title I Services in Roanoke County Public Schools

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Virginia Tech


The federal government has taken an increasingly active role in its involvement in public education since the turn of the twentieth century. Prior to World War II, federal intervention in public education was a result of war initiatives. Following World War II, the United States experienced a number of social and economic conditions that had implications for public education. Among these were a rapid increase in student enrollments resulting from the post World War II baby boom, continuing racial segregation, and chronic inferior education for African Americans and economically disadvantaged students of all races and ethnic groups. To combat the economic, social, and political implications associated with these conditions, the federal government worked with states and local departments of education to formulate plans for educational reform.

During the 1960s, federal aid to public schools grew from half a billion dollars in 1960 to 3.5 billion in 1970 (Kantor & Lowe, 1995). Federal aid was increased to provide support for educational facilities and to provide compensatory educational programs for economically disadvantaged students through Head Start of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Educators were encouraged to develop programs to meet the needs of the minority, disadvantaged, and special education populations through the provisions of these acts and subsequent appropriations. This is the report of a historical study of the federal response to the needs of the identified students as implemented through Roanoke County Public Schools.

The purpose of this study is to provide a historical account of the development of Head Start and Title I programs in Roanoke County Public Schools within the national context of Head Start and Title I programs. The potential impact of this study includes a greater understanding of the influences that led to the development of Head Start and Title I at the national level and the subsequent educational services implemented through Head Start and Title I programs in Roanoke County Public Schools.



Federal Compensatory Programs, Economic Opportunity Act, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title I, Roanoke County, Virginia, Head Start