All up in the Business: Federal Role in State Public Schools

By Dr. Alicia Sigee

Dr. Alicia Sigee

At first thought and for several reasons, I was not on board with the Federal Government taking their hands off of public schools: First, funding of course and secondly monitoring the equality of education for all students.  After reading some comments from my first post on JD Pendry’s American Journal, I decided I needed to investigate other standpoints instead of disregarding them as the enemy or too far to the left or right.  So, equipped with a laptop, google, and a desire to find the answer to; What function does the federal government have in state public schools? I embarked on a new journey.

So, let’s examine the facts:  

The federal government has the responsibility to ensure the right to a free and high quality education for all K-12 students by protecting their rights and providing resources for the most in need, using public data and high quality research, and providing support and infrastructure for schools, districts, and states to help them continuously improve their work (U. S. Department of Education).  

The different roles the Department Education plays in public education (Carnegie Foundation):

  • 1785-1958 Congress donated federal lands to create public schools when US territories petitioned to become a state.
  • Post Civil War – Southern states refused to educate former slaves, Congress provided federal schools to do so.
  • Early 20th century – Congress funded vocational training for an increasing immigrant population.
  • 1950s-1960s – After the Soviet Union launched a satellite into space, Congress funded major efforts to teach math and science to develop advanced technology.
  • The 1960s and 1970s – Congress created programs to target the underserved students with disabilities, low income, and African-Americans when they found that these populations were receiving inadequate education.
  • Currently – US Department of education mandates statewide accountability and reporting, provides funding for underserviced students, and dictates how schools should be managed. (Brown Center on Education Policy)
    • States required to adopt challenging academic standards
    • Test standards annually
    • Report the test results by subgroups
    • Set state targets for improving achievement
    • Hold schools and teachers accountable for test results

As a result, schools are so bogged down with assessments and accountability there’s no education occurring in the classrooms.  States have a shortage of teachers due to the pressures of students performing on a single assessment.  The federal government has not adjusted its policies to address that over 50% of students in America are on free and reduced lunch (Phi Delta Kappan), more than 1.3 million drop out from high school each year (Doing What Matters), and the achievement gap has not narrowed as Congress planned it would. 

With the facts stated, I have to agree with my fellow Americans that the Federal Government should remove itself from the classroom while continuing to provide the necessary funding to support our neediest students and give the power to educate back to the states. 

Note: Yes, to federal funding – States will go bankrupt to provide the specialized education. 

Note 2: The whole shift in federal government mandating the state school system started with states accepting Title 1 funding coupled with its strict requirements.

© 2019 Alicia Sigee, All Rights Reserved.  Email:

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