History and Overview of the ESEA

History and Overview of the ESEA
History and Overview of the ESEA



This briefing was the first in a series of briefings designed to provide information to Congressional staff who work on education issues. This briefing provided background and context on how the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has evolved since its enactment in 1965 and how the federal role in education has changed in those intervening years. This briefing provided background on current education policy and discussed options for future policy directions.

Christopher T. Cross, chairman of Cross & Joftus, LLC, and an expert in education policy, presented.  In 2010, Mr. Cross wrote Political Education: National Policy Comes of Age, which helps explain the forces that have shaped federal K-12 policy over the last half-century.  Mr. Cross addressed such points as:

  • How and why the U.S. Department of Education came into existence.
  • How the Title I program came to emphasize whole school reform.
  • The history behind the development of the federal government’s special education policy.
  • The justification for the federal role in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.


Presenter Biography


Chris Cross Photo.jpg

Christopher T. Cross is chairman of Cross & Joftus, LLC, an education-policy consulting firm. He is a Senior Fellow with the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy. He has also been a Senior Fellow with the Center for Education Policy and a Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Education Commission of the States and served as president of the Maryland State Board of Education from 1994-1997. From 1994 to 2002 he served as president and chief executive officer of the Council for Basic Education.  Currently, he is on the board of The New Teacher Project, the National Center on Time and Learning and a trustee of Whittier College.

Before joining CBE, Mr. Cross served as Director of the Education Initiative of The Business Roundtable and as Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement in the U.S. Department of Education.  From 1972-1979, Cross served as senior education consultant and Republican staff director of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor.

Mr. Cross chaired the National Assessment of Title I Independent Review Panel on Evaluation for the U.S. Department of Education from 1995-2001 and the National Research Council Panel on Minority Representation in Special Education from 1997-2002 and the NRC panel on Early Childhood Mathematics from 2007-2009. In addition, he was a member of the NRC panel on International Education and Foreign Languages, 2006-2007.

His book on the evolution of federal education policy, Political Education: National Policy Comes of Age, was published in 2004 by Teachers College Press. An updated edition was released in August 2010. He has also written extensively in the education and public policy areas and has been published in numerous scholarly and technical publications, including Education Week, Kappan, The College Board Review, The Washington Post, the Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times. He is also editor or co-editor of several books, including two from the National Academies Press. Mr. Cross has a bachelor’s degree from Whittier College and a master’s degree in Government from California State University, Los Angeles.

Political Education: National Policy Comes of Age – Chris Cross Powerpoint Presentation»

Presenter Information

Christopher T. Cross


Cross & Joftus, LLC

109 Sunhaven Road

Danville, CA 94506





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