Assistant Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Los Angeles
Title I of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act substantially increased federal aid to school districts, with the goal of improving educational opportunity for poor students. The South was a major beneficiary of the new program. Using newly collected data and formula-based variation in Title I grants, we find that increases in federal funding over the second half of the 1960s translated into increases in educational spending of 51 cents on the dollar in the average Southern district, and these federal-funding induced increases accounted for a quarter of current expenditure per pupil during the 1960s. By the end of the 1960s, poorer Southern districts spent relatively more per child than richer Southern districts, accounting for other factors, reversing the pattern seen earlier in the decade.