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  • Education's Federal Compliance Burden

    On Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a full committee hearing on the impact of the federal government’s role in education; the mandates handed down from Washington, the associated paperwork burden, and the hurdles created for teachers and schools as a result. (If that sounds like a handful, it is.)

    The hearing’s $64,000 question was whether these regulations have led to improvements in academic achievement. The answer, not surprisingly, seems to be no. Congressman John Kline (R–MN), chairman of the committee, stated during the hearing:

    The nation’s education system is clearly broken, despite escalating intervention by policymakers in Washington over the last 40 years. In 1994 the Government Accountability Office conducted a review of federal education regulations at the K-12 level and the burden they placed on state and local school leaders. The GAO discovered states employed 13,400 full-time individuals to implement federal education programs. At the time, the federal government imposed 41 percent of the administrative burden, yet paid just 7 percent of the total cost.

    While those figures are over a decade old, the situation hasn’t improved. In fact, it’s gotten worse. … States and local school districts work 7.8 million hours each year collecting and disseminating information required under Title I of federal education law. Those hours cost more than $235 million. The burden is tremendous.

    As Congress considers reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (now known as No Child Left Behind), its guiding principal should be that of restoring federalism in education: sending dollars and decision making to state and local leaders in order to reduce much of this federal regulation and bureaucracy. Proposals such as A-PLUS, which would allow states to opt out of many of the programs funded under NCLB and direct federal dollars in a way that best meets the needs of local children, would put education back on this path.

    During the hearing, Edgar B. Hatrick, Superintendent of Loudon County Public Schools in Virginia, also testified on the paperwork burden levied on states and school districts to comply with federal reporting requirements. His testimony was enlightening:

    When compliance with reporting requirements becomes the focus of implementation it sends a powerful message that the process is more important than the product. … I’d like to share with you an example. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) reporting requirement comes with no funding and ignores the availability of this information from State Education Agencies. The most recent OCR data collection was completed this past December and required aggregating and disaggregating more than twelve categories of data, with more than 144 fields for each of our 50 elementary schools and 263 fields of data for each of our 24 secondary schools, for a total of 13,944 data elements. And this was just for one school district out of the 13,924 school districts in America.

    For LCPS, this required 532 hours of staff time at an estimated cost of $25,370, which translates into diverting 82 instructional days away from students.

    Hatrick’s example is just one of many that could be found to illustrate the burden handed down from Washington and placed on states and schools.

    In order to limit much of this bureaucracy, state and local leaders should be empowered to direct how their education dollars are spent. Allowing states to opt out of heavy-handed federal programs would help focus more dollars and manpower where they’re most needed: in the classroom.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Education's Federal Compliance Burden

    1. Pingback: Education’s Federal Compliance Burden

    2. Emmit West says:

      *clap clap clap*

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    5. Bob D, Rossford, Ohi says:

      I'm still looking for the words "school" or "education" in our Constitution.

      Hmm – can't seem to find them. So why exactly do we even have a Department of Education?

    6. John Clancy says:

      The time is long overdue to turn back the strings-attached money to the federal government and close the Department of Education down.

      The ESEA money that was poured into Detroit during the 60's, 70's, and 80's was astronomical. Overpaid administrators in the School Center Building were tripping over one another, but the students languished. When will we ever learn? Now the new superintendent, Robert Bobb, is talking about 60 students in each classroom to stay within some financial limit!

      The closer our structures are to the students, the better. The feds are a negative factor. We cherish local control, right down to parental control. Even the individual State Boards must keep it simple, keep the teacher and the student in mind. Drop "No student left behind." Drop "Race to the top."

      The tax dollars for education are much more likely to be well spent if they remain in the individual state. President Carter established the Department of Education as a payback to the powerful Teacher Unions and this empowerment continues to plague us as these unions fight for salaries and benefits while we have inferior learning.

    7. John Rough 2097 Spri says:

      Why is it that I can only send your posts to only 5 recipients? I have over 50 contacts that will respond to me if not you regarding a specific subject. Please allow me a little freedom.


    8. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Lindsey Burke, thank you for confirming what I have always thought that the Department Of Education is actually undermining our kids! At this time, with Demo-crats playing chicken with our ship of State, wouldn't it be wise to eliminate the entire Department? I see the perfect opportunity for the States to reassert Federalism and take back the States Right to Educate our Children! You Dems want to shut down the Gov? TEA Party people would be deleriously happy if House Republicans balanced the Federal Budget by defunding huge blocks of the Federal Government.

      The more the DOEd wastes State Resources the less Educational product we get! Shocking to see it in terms of lost Student hours! I think the National Curriculum is so bad it is actually destructive of our Representative Democracy. Teachers Unions run our schools, uh! Yeah, into the ground!

    9. David F. Murray, Bel says:

      I can recall debating in junior high school (in the 40's),whether the Federal Government should defy the Constitution and step in so that (e.g.) the kids in Mississippi would have as much spent on their education as the kids in New York. We doubted whether the Feds would then feel the need to dictate education matters to the states. How wrong we were. The requirements that outcomes must be the same in affluent suburban areas as those in places where most of the kids don't hear English at home and the parents will not interact with the schools, because they think that it is the government, makes no sense. Better the let the states do their thing and let the people vote, with their feet if necessary.

    10. Pingback: American public schools; Expensive failures | Steve Bussey

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