Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, Public Law 89-10), enacted in 1965 as part of the Johnson Administration’s War on Poverty, was the most ambitious and far-ranging federal education law. Its primary purpose was to ensure full educational opportunity by providing additional resources for low-income students. Title I of the law distributes funding to schools and school districts with a high percentage of students from low-income families. Other sections of the law provide funding and support for English-language learners (bilingual education) and students with special needs, along with funding for school libraries and instructional materials, educational research and training, and grants to strengthen state departments of education.

Most major education reform laws since 1965, including No Child Left Behind (2002) and Every Student Succeeds Act (2015) are reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.