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  • Washington Education Policy: Making the Rules but Not Playing the Game

    At a House hearing Tuesday morning on the burden of federal intervention into American schools, Representative Mike Kelly (R–PA) referred to the federal government as “the people that are … making the rules but have never played the game.” Witnesses included three school administrators from various states along with Heritage Director of Domestic Policy Jennifer Marshall.

    Kelly noted that schools have continued to receive burdensome mandates and regulations from Washington, yet politicians are not the ones who have to deal with the consequences. As the Kelly put it, “They talk the talk, but never walk the walk.”

    As Marshall testified, since the federal government got into the business of regulating schools in the 1960s, federal education programs have experienced massive increases, bringing with them increasingly complex compliance burdens and red tape for schools to handle. Instead of using resources to focus on students, schools are made to throw time, money, and manpower toward Washington’s demands. She noted:

    The proliferation of federal programs and the ever-increasing prescription of federally driven systemic reform distract school-level personnel and local and state leaders from serving their primary customers: students, parents, and taxpayers.

    Likewise, Robert Grimesey, superintendent of Orange County (Virginia) Public Schools noted that the “culture of compliance” created by federal regulation “makes federal compliance an end in itself.” As a result, “it becomes very difficult to maintain … focus on the achievement and welfare of our children.”

    It’s no surprise, then, that while federal education spending has tripled over the last four decades, student achievement and graduation rates have flatlined.

    James Willcox, chief executive officer of Aspire Public Schools, gave an example of what he referred to as “overly burdensome” regulation. He noted that for schools “to qualify for or renew Title I funding requires copious amounts of paperwork,” requiring each employee to “fill out a personnel activity sheet each month.” Additionally, they must “outline their salary for that month and describe how much of that is from Title I.” On top of that, “each staff member and his/her principal have to sign these forms on a monthly basis.” They are also asked to submit two 30-page reports annually and carry out a “rigorous … auditing process.”

    Beyond this, No Child Left Behind has “cost states an additional 7 million hours in paperwork at a cost of $141 million,” Marshall noted.

    As Kelly succinctly concluded:

    We have overregulated and overburdened you so much with unneeded information and continue to do it. … My personal opinion is you need to have less government telling you what the rules should be: they don’t know, they’ve never done it.

    Instead of saddling states and districts with more federal regulations and red tape, the federal government needs to loosen the load on schools. Otherwise we’ll be stuck with an education system that caters to Washington bureaucrats more than parents and taxpayers.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Washington Education Policy: Making the Rules but Not Playing the Game

    1. Stirling, Pennsylvan says:

      As a parrent who attended a private school system growing up, and now my children are attending a public school, I am shocked at how little the public schools actually teach. I would of thought since people always say that the current generation knows more then it's past generations (due to advances in information), but the fact is that the reality is that they are being taught less "Critical Thinking" which is the base for being successful in the business world and private sector. Although if they are being groomed for "Government Jobs," then thinking less is a pre-requisite. Personally I blame the progressive movement for it's policies of dumbing down our public schools to think about the "Collective" rather then the "Individual" which our country was founded on. We should do away with this GRE "Government Run Everything," and get back to the states determining their own education requirements and goals which are more in line with the needs of our country.

    2. Victoria Collins-Bec says:

      I taught in a Title I school in Austin ISD for two years. In that time, I never had to justify any part of my salary. Not even once. My school was 90+% low SES (socio-economic status), and I never ever had to submit any of the paperwork to which the spokesperson from Aspire alludes. Perhaps that is not for Texas schools? Perhaps it is only for charter schools?

    3. Cinco Texan, Texas says:

      Without local accountability, no program will run efficiently. That was the purpose of a locally elected school board, which is now just a rubber stamp for federal programs. School board members are sent to indoctrination seminars to "train" them on how to defer to the "Professionals". Because those in power can control the federal money, it is a stacked game against true education. Greed has replaced altruism in the public school system. Money thrown at education ends up in the pockets of the administrators, not the teachers or classrooms. And in this system, it never will no matter how much money is given to schools.

    4. Robin York says:

      Thankfully the Heritage Foundation raises public awareness of dangerous federal intrusion into public education. I was very happy to see Ms. Marshall on the panel.

    5. AZPublicSchoolMom says:

      Stirling, PA's comment complains about poor public ed compared to her private education. My education was public, but I at least know the proper way to use an apostrophe with "it". Also, my child's English teacher has taught "have thought" is proper while "of thought" is not. The current castigation of public ed coming amid the rush to reform is troubling. Some public schools are excellent. I worry about nationalization and privatization.

    6. Yankee says:

      Public schools, much as I dislike the very idea, are the the responsibility of the individual states. The Federal government has no business involving itself. It has proven only that money alone does not fix problems or improve circumstances.

    7. Bobbie says:

      Every school is different. For the most part schools are needlessly overburdened by feds who's interest isn't in education. Feds prove their inappropriateness and removal is necessary.

    8. Bobbie says:

      I appreciate Stirling's comment very much.

      The publically educated sees "have thought" is proper, while "of thought" is not? A written victim of narrow minded, government educated thinking when "have and of" come at different times of propriety. But don't let that open your mind too much, you may learn so much more.

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