NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 21, 1995

What is happening to local control of schools and education policies in the United States? Answer: money, power, and decision making are shifting to Washington.

  • The federal government now spends about $70 billion a year on education programs.
  • Since its creation, the Education Department's budget has more than doubled -- from $14.2 billion in 1980 to $32.9 billion in 1995.
  • Over the past five years, the Education Department has grown from 4,596 bureaucrats and 155 programs to 5,100 bureaucrats and more than 240 programs.
  • Some 30 other federal agencies pour more than $27 billion into 308 other education programs that are duplicative and overlapping.
  • Despite the spending, SAT scores rose just 1.1 percent during the 1980s.
  • In more than a third of the states they actually fell.

President Clinton wants to broaden the federal government's education role; the Republicans want to send education responsibility back to the states.

  • The House wants to cut $3.6 billion from the Education Department's budget, while the Senate seeks $2.9 billion in cuts.
  • While President Clinton has included a $2.2 billion cut in his 1996 budget, he is forging ahead with the so-called Goals 2000 program.

Goals 2000 provides aid to states to develop education reform plans and implement "voluntary federal standards." But the program expands the federal presence in education.

  • States must submit plans to federal officials showing how they intend to accomplish federal education goals.
  • Once a state accepts Goals 2000 money, it must implement the program's requirements or be subject to federal action.
  • Thus, a local charter school free from state regulations would have to answer directly to the federal government.
  • Critics point to controversial history standards and political bias in Goals 2000 materials.

House Republicans have chosen to zero out Goals 2000. But the Senate has opted to keep it -- cutting only $62 million.

Source: Matthew Robinson, "The Federalization of Education," Investor's Business Daily, November 21, 1995.


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