Via the Mercatus Center at George Mason University:
Reading, Writing, and Regulations: A Survey of the Expanding Federal Role in Elementary and Secondary Education Policy
Until 1965, the federal government played a fairly limited role in the elementary and secondary education system in the United States. The US Constitution is noticeably silent on matters related to education, and therefore the provision of education is left as a power reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment. As part of his Great Society programs, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965 and set in motion an expansion of federal control that would continue into the next century.
The original legislation was relatively specific in its intent; it was meant to provide compensatory educational resources for students from low-income backgrounds. However, after numerous amendments and reauthorizations, the law grew to more than 20 times its original size, and the breadth of federal control it provided grew with it. Hundreds of specific federal programs were added over the years as federal funding of elementary and secondary education increased. Attached to these programs and funds came strings of federal control.
The most recent version of the ESEA is No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which authorizes such a high level of federal oversight that the original legislation is hardly recognizable. Even now, federal influence continues to expand, fueled by such recent programs as Race to the Top and Common Core.