On June 23, 1972 -- 40 years ago Saturday -- President Nixon signed into law the Education Amendments Acts of 1972. This omnibus legislation contained many provisions of political and social significance, including a major appropriation for higher education and student loans, money to improve education for Native Americans, and most controversially, a provision postponing the implementation of court orders related to racial desegregation. There was so much going on in the Education Amendments Act of 1972 that coverage of its passage in the New York Times devoted only a small paragraph near the end to a provision of the act that prohibits sex discrimination in education institutions that received federal funds, the provision numbered Title IX.
Yet despite receiving little recognition at the time, Title IX is the provision with the most enduring effect on American education (the provision delaying desegregation orders was effectively overturned in court later that year). In fact, given Title IX’s small stature, its humble origins, and all that it has overcome and accomplished since then, we celebrate this month as the anniversary of “the little statute that could.”