The History of School Trust Lands in Nevada: The No Child Left Behind Act of 1864
41 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2006 Last revised: 26 Aug 2008
This Article details the history of the federal school lands grant program in Nevada - the first federal initiative to support public education in the new state. After providing a brief overview of federal land management history in the West, the Article presents the story of school lands in Nevada - tracing its birth in Congress and at the Nevada Constitutional Convention in 1864; analyzing the changes made by state constitutional amendments and court decisions; exploring Congress's attempts to adapt the program to Nevada's needs in the form of the two-million-acre grant of 1880 and the 30,000-acre exchange of 1926; and documenting government abuse and misuse of the Nevada school lands program in the twentieth century.
Tracing the history of the school lands grants in Nevada reveals several recurrent themes in federal land law development and the history of the West. First, federal land management policies seldom functioned as intended - due in large part to the pressures of local self-interest. A second and more pervasive reason for the theory/practice disconnect stems from Congress's lack of understanding about the arid American West. Lastly, problems that plagued the school lands grants, as with many national initiatives, implicated the mechanics - and not necessarily the philosophy - of Congress's initiative.
Keywords: land law, legal history, school, education, public land, Nevada, federal land management
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