Girl and woman in a classroom

In 1965, the federal government began to play a major role in funding public education. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (P. L. 89-10) provided the first federal support for education. In 1966, the Act was amended (P. L. 89-750), and the Bureau for Education of the Handicapped was established in the United States Office of Education to administer research, educational and training programs supported by the federal government. The National Advisory Council on Disability was also established. The first federal grant program for the education of children with disabilities at the local level was created.

Federal funding for public education and for children with disabilities was important in its own right – more money for education. It also brought local education under federal civil rights protections. This became increasingly important in the 1970s.

The changes in the 1960s were basically structural. They put the mechanisms in place that could have an impact over the long term. In the short term, the President's Committee continued to recognize that there was a long road ahead. In 1967, the PCMR reported that half of the nation's 25,000 school districts offer no classes for pupils having special learning problems and needs.