• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Education Reform Lesson One: Review Past Mistakes

    Congress needs to take stock of the daunting burdens of paperwork and red tape imposed by expanding federal regulation of local schools and beware creating new obstacles to student achievement, one of Heritage’s education experts testified yesterday before a House subcommittee conducting the first such review since the Clinton administration.

    “I commend this subcommittee for renewing attention to a pressing problem in education policy today. Serious investigation like this into the scope and effects of federal intervention has not taken place for more than a decade, despite massive growth in the federal role in education,” Jennifer A. Marshall, director of domestic policy studies, told the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education.

    Marshall‘s testimony identified three major costs of compliance with federal education policy:

    “Even the GAO [Government Accountability Office] has had a hard time counting up all the education programs,” Marshall told the subcommittee. “Using a narrow definition, GAO determined in 2010 that there were 151 K-12 and early childhood education programs in 20 federal agencies, totaling $55.6 billion annually.”

    • Administrative set-asides and red tape dilute how much taxpayer money reaches the classroom after multiple layers of bureaucracy.

    Marshall noted that school officials in Fairfax County, Va., devoted a day to train personnel on requirements of the law known as No Child Left Behind. For what they spent coaching 14,000 teachers and 1,000 administrators on how to fall in line with Uncle Sam, they could have hired and paid 86 instructors for a year.

    • State bureaucracies keep growing to comply with federal programs, creating a “client mentality” that undermines accountability to parents and other taxpayers.

    “Accountability is important, but accountability to whom and for what?” Marshall asked the panel, chaired by Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA). “The status quo focuses on fine-tuned, aggregate calculations that are most useful for bureaucrats to chart the progress of a school, district or state so they can apply federal carrots and sticks.”

    The hearing, ” Education Regulations: Burying Schools in Paperwork,”is one of a series designed by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, to tutor the new Congress on the record of federal failure.

    Meanwhile, President Obama seeks to lay on the ol’ razzle-dazzle to convince lawmakers that No Child Left Behind needs only some carefully calibrated tweaks to propel every child into “winning the future.”

    Also testifying yesterday were Orange County, Va., Superintendent Robert Grimesey Jr.;  James Wilcox, CEO of Aspire public schools in Oakland, Calif.; and Chuck Grable, assistant superintendent for instruction at Huntington, Ind., Community School Corp.

    Marshall suggested that policymakers will need to review much updated information from GAO and other trusted sources if they are to decide how best to “restore dollars and decision-making to those closest to the student.

    “Washington’s role currently stands in the way of that objective, and the first order of business is to take stock of that obstacle,” she said.

    Heritage provides a few pointers here.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Education Reform Lesson One: Review Past Mistakes

    1. Redfray, Pea Ridge, says:

      Oh yes, same old story, who gets the power to educate our children. We know for a fact, our schools are not doing as good of a job of educating our children as they did 30 years ago. So, why can't we figure out what has happen to the system? I guess this is the best answer I can give to this problem, to many "Leaders and not enough workers". Should we become better eductated, and get rid of the costly government interference, we might save our education system in America.

    2. Pingback: World Spinner

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×