of the Legislation
By the middle of the 1960s, many American school districts that had
been racially segregated were now being desegregated. Equality in voting
and other civil rights was being attained by African-Americans a hundred
years after Emancipation. It was obvious, though, that a wide chasm
separated the races economically. President Lyndon Johnson had been
elected in a landslide in 1964 and he felt the political conditions
were right to push for Congressional action on an agenda of social reform,
called The Great Society. A central program in that agenda was the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965.
of the Legislation
The overall purpose of ESEA was to improve educational opportunities
for poor children. This was not meant as a general package of aid to
all schools; the allocation formulas directed assistance to the local
education agencies (LEAs) with the greatest proportions of poor children.
The funds were purposely distributed through state education agencies
(SEAs) to avoid the perception that the federal government was intervening
in the rights and obligations of states to provide public education
and also to use the funds as leverage to upgrade the capabilities of
Provisions Relevant to the Audiovisual Field
Title I authorized grants to schools that proposed
improve their educational programs for poor children in specific
ways. In many cases school districts developed plans to expand and
improve the teaching of reading and other subjects in which poor
students needed remedial help. This often involved the acquisition
of audiovisual hardware and software and the upgrading of district
and regional media centers. In Orange County, Florida, for example,
the total Title I allocation was about $1 million. Of this, about
half was expended for:
purchase of a variety of films, filmstrips, tape and disc recordings,
transparencies, supplemental reading and textual materials, audiovisual
equipment, and specialized production equipment….[and for]
additional leased warehouse and office space, concomitant with personnel
to staff this expansion of facilities and services and to provide
additional in-service training capabilities at the media center
and at the school level.¹
Library Resources. Title II provided funds ($100 million the
first year) for
school library resources, including the purchase of textbooks, programmed
instruction materials, periodicals, other printed materials, and
audiovisual materials. As with Title I, the funds were filtered
As it happened, DAVI played in indirect role in increasing the proportion
of funds eventually directed toward audiovisual materials. First,
in many states Title II funds were allocated to LEAs on the basis
of what they needed to bring their libraries up to the standards
set out in Standards for School Library Programs, the standards
developed jointly by DAVI and the American Library Association.
Thanks to the input from DAVI, schools had quantitative standards
for audiovisual materials that they could use to justify expenditures.
Second, at the 1965 DAVI convention in Milwaukee a NAVA-produced
filmstrip, “ESEA of 1965,” was presented. It explained
how Title II and other provisions of the law could be interpreted
to support audiovisual media. It was later shown to audiences all
over the country. The filmstrip became famous as an advocacy instrument
for the AV movement.
Initiatives. Title III provided funds ($75 million in the first
and exemplary programs.” The purpose was to develop innovative
solutions to educational problems, and to demonstrate those solutions
so that they could be disseminated to other schools.
Many DAVI members assumed leadership in their school districts
to develop proposals for innovation that featured media. Some
- a mobile audiovisual center to demonstrate
a well-equipped and staffed school media center operation
- an environmental learning project that expanded
a conventional school library into a media center with electronic
- an in-service training center that provided
facilities for previewing and producing new AV materials as
well as equipment for practicing the use of new media equipment
The combined impact of Titles I, II, and III on the audiovisual field
was tremendous. One indicator of impact is the sheer number of dollars
spent by public schools on audiovisual media, as shown in Figure
Overall, school spending on audiovisual media in 1965-66, the first
year of ESEA’s implementation, was over 50% larger than the prior
year and almost twice that of 1962-63. Overhead projectors and 16mm
film sales and rentals showed the highest rate of increase between 1965
About 20% of school spending on media was devoted to salaries of audiovisual
personnel. It’s interesting to note that spending on salaries
rose 41% over the four-year period but the percentage of schools having
audiovisual specialist on the payroll did not increase over this period.
The increased spending therefore reflects higher spending within the
school districts that had already been employing audiovisual specialists.
The impact on DAVI was both direct and indirect. More money available
for hardware and software meant that delegates arrived at the annual
convention eager to spend money with exhibitors. This encouraged more
exhibitors to come with bigger exhibits. Between 1965 and 1971 each
year set a new all-time record for exhibitors at the convention. Since
exhibit income covered a large proportion of the annual expenses, the
association was able to undertake a more ambitious program.
The creation of larger audiovisual enterprises at the local, district,
and regional levels created more jobs, and therefore more potential
members of DAVI. The expansion of the membership pool was also aided
greatly by the “special media institutes” funded by the
amended NDEA, which was part of the overall ESEA legislative package.
Indeed, membership, like school AV spending, more than doubled during
this period. The five years after ESEA saw the largest growth in membership
in DAVI’s history, reaching an all-time high of over 11,000 members
In short, the federal education initiatives of 1965 were the catalyst
for the greatest expansion in the history of DAVI, taking the association
to heights that would not be equaled in later years.
Allison, George E. ESEA: Title I at work in Orange County, Florida.
Audiovisual Instruction, December 1966, p. 786.