Rightsizing Fed Ed: Principles for Reform and Practical Steps to Move in the Right Direction

12 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020

See all articles by Jonathan Butcher

Jonathan Butcher

Goldwater Institute

Jamie Gass

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Neal McCluskey

Center for Educational Freedom

Date Written: May 4, 2020

Abstract

The federal government has been heavily involved in education since the mid‐​1960s, intervening in everything from early childhood education to graduate schooling. This paper lays out the principles that should govern federal involvement in seven specific areas and briefly examines the effects of Washington’s policies. The areas are elementary and secondary education funding; curricular standards and testing mandates; state and local planning mandates; school choice; higher education; early childhood education and care; and civil rights. Each section also lays out steps that can be taken relatively quickly to move in the right direction. These include the following:

Allow states to control distribution of federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Allow states to approve multiple, diverse curricular standards and aligned tests and permit local education authorities to select the ones that best fit the needs of their students.

Eliminate federal mandates for centrally designed state and local policies and replace federal review panels with state assurances that they will meet federal requirements.

Expand private education choice options to more students who live in Washington, DC, are in active‐​duty military families, or attend Bureau of Indian Education schools while protecting private school curricular autonomy and enhancing parent‐​driven accountability.

Reduce federal student aid, starting by phasing out PLUS loans, to restore discipline to college pricing.

Phase out the ineffective Head Start program and return early childhood education and care to states, communities, and parents.

Move civil rights enforcement from the Department of Education to the Department of Justice and use standard notice‐​and‐​comment procedures, not “Dear Colleague” letters, to make substantive regulatory changes.

Keywords: Federal Education, Education, Public School, USDE, ED, DoE, Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Civil Rights, Education Reform

JEL Classification: A20, A21, A29

Suggested Citation

Butcher, Jonathan and Gass, Jamie and McCluskey, Neal, Rightsizing Fed Ed: Principles for Reform and Practical Steps to Move in the Right Direction (May 4, 2020). Cato Institute, Policy Analysis No. 891, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3594836

Jonathan Butcher (Contact Author)

Goldwater Institute ( email )

500 E. Coronado Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States

Jamie Gass

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Neal McCluskey

Center for Educational Freedom ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

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