What the Federal Government Can Do To Improve American Education

Published 9:34 am Friday, December 23, 2022

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The state of public education has been a central focus of the 2000 presidential election. Parties’ candidates often appear to compete with one another. They do so to see who can propose the most radical new policies. Conventional wisdom holds that if there is an issue, the government must implement a program to address it. However, in their haste to win over voters, candidates aren’t giving enough thought to the federal government’s long-standing involvement in education or the glaring shortcomings of current federal programs.

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The federal government’s role in public schools has never been expansive. Not only is it not included in the Constitution, but neither is education. It has been up to individual states and school districts to make day-to-day decisions. They make decisions about curriculum, classroom personnel, and course materials. The federal government has spent the vast majority of its existence tracking educational trends. They are distributing the results. Only after the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was implemented. In 1965 the federal government begin to invest in elementary and secondary education. At now, the federal government pays for only 7% of the cost of K-12 education in the United States. And this percentage has never been higher than 10%.

“Categorical” Programs

“Categorial” programs receive the lion’s share of the federal government’s meager financing for education. Poor (Title I) and disabled (special education) pupils make up the major groups. These are served by these two programs. Most kids in the United States do not meet the forming a government essay requirements for these or any other type of targeted aid program. For the vast majority of students, a penny or two of every education dollar can be traced back to Washington. 

The greatest barrier to federal control is physical separation. The separation of the capital from the classroom. Federal programs make their way from the federal government to the 50 state departments of education. This disseminates to local school districts, school site administrators, and classroom instructors. Every step of the way, resources are lost to the bloated bureaucracy. Regulations are shaped and reshaped to accommodate regional concerns. Federal policy, by the time it reaches the classroom, looks about as similar to its precursor. As a bird does to its evolutionary ancestor, the dinosaur.

Candidates for Office

Any candidate for public office would do well to acknowledge these facts. However, given the current political climate, it is challenging for legislators to recognize Washington’s limited influence. Opinion polls have shown that education is the top priority for the public at large. Both Democrats and Republicans have shown support in recent years.  

There is increasing federal government involvement in the nation’s classrooms. The federal government play as the appropriate actor in many areas. These areas were once seen as the purview of state and local school officials. It includes increasing the amount of technology in classrooms. Plus, establishing school disciplinary codes. Deciding how reading will be taught, recruiting new teachers, and determining their qualifications. And, launching after-school programs, and selecting exemplary math textbooks.

An Appropriate Federal Role

Even while it is commendable, the people’s desire to see public schools improved.  There is no sign that current government programs are successful. They’re not meeting their objectives. In fact, the majority of evaluations don’t show any achievement.  The main federal categorical programs are failing to make a difference in the issues.  Even Head Start, the most well-liked federal effort, has not been able to narrow the significant achievements. Besides, regardless of a program’s ineffectiveness, Congress has refused to change it. Every government program has a committed constituency. It can be mobilized on their behalf. And even the smallest programs have managed to maintain the flow of public funding.

Principles of Reform

Poor children in the United States were promised financial support. So, they could attend schools of adequate quality in 1965. In 1975, it pledged to assist disadvantaged children. Neither of these assurances has been fulfilled. We provide the following guidelines to advise candidates in the 2000 election.  This’ll help those who desire to strengthen the federal government’s role in education. 

The first step is to improve already established federal initiatives. Improve the education of the children who are part of Title I and other special needs programs. To establish what is helping kids and what is not, it is crucial for Congress to mandate sound evaluations. 

Second, we need to better align mandates with the revenue needed to fulfill them. For special education, this implies either reducing the scope of the law’s standards. Plus increasing funding to meet them. Envision a world in which the government pays for all special education programs. It would be up to individual school districts. They would decide how to spend the $37 billion in federal education funding. This could include many things like implementing measures to lower class sizes. Also, increasing the number of available teachers. And providing professional development opportunities, or purchasing new educational resources. 

Third, the federal government should give to schools in the most efficient way workable.  These federal programs are meant to aid kids, not to increase the size of government bureaucracy. 

Fourth, don’t give in to the need to micromanage educational matters. This is better left to communities on issues such as determining what should be taught. And, how teachers should be prepared. How many students each classroom should have, how strict punishments should be, and so on. 

With these basic guidelines, the incoming administration can make educational policy history. They may take advantage of it, by making federal programs function. Also, drop onerous rules and restrictions associated with them. The local schools will be able to unleash their efforts on behalf of the children they serve.