ERIC Number: EJ763348
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Reference Count: N/A
A New New Federalism: The Case for National Standards and Tests
Petrilli, Michael J.; Finn, Chester E., Jr.
Education Next, v6 n4 p48-51 Fall 2006
According to these authors, the federal government has pushed far too deeply into the routines and operations of the nation's public schools, now regulating everything from teacher credentials to the selection of reading programs. Ironically, the one way to extricate Washington from the minutiae of K-12 education is to give it more power in one realm--specifically, the power to set national standards and tests--and then ask it to back off from just about everything else. The federal role in education has always been a disappointment and a frustration. For most of the American history, Uncle Sam steered clear of the issue; in the days of Jim Crow, this amounted to shameful neglect. After "Brown v. Board of Education" (1954) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965), the pendulum began to swing toward the other extreme: Washington became an overbearing, micromanaging schoolmarm, attempting to coerce equity, then excellence, from the K-12 system through regulation and bribery. This, too, has failed to produce schools of which the nation can be proud. In this article, the authors envision a radically different approach, a role reversal in which the federal government plays a much smaller role in the day-to-day affairs of local schools, but is much more specific about achievement expectations. Under this scenario, Washington would do three things--and only three things--in K-12 education: (1) fund high-quality research and data gathering; (2) distribute dollars (ideally through a formula weighted by student needs); and (3) measure the schools' progress with common standards and tests, just like other grown-up countries do. National standards and tests just might be the way out of the morass--and the way into the education future that the country needs.
Descriptors: United States History, Elementary Secondary Education, National Standards, Federal Government, Government Role, Public Schools, Student Evaluation, Educational History, Educational Legislation, Academic Achievement, Resource Allocation, Federal Aid, Educational Equity (Finance), Financial Support, Federalism
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001