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ERIC Number: EJ898333
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 47
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-1096-2719
The Federal Role in Education
Hill, Paul T.
Brookings Papers on Education Policy, p11-57 2000
In this paper, the author discusses the federal role in education, which raises fundamental questions about how federal programs affect the schools. He suggests principles for a new federal role and shows how government policies have made schools more formal and complex; engineered political pressures that distorted schools' operations and priorities; and imposed requirements that facilitate oversight by legislatures, bureaucracies, and courts, yet impede effective instruction. He observes that the federal role as currently defined, with extensive reliance on categorical programs, each of which has separate funding streams and discrete personnel, has disrupted the coherence of schools. He argues that the more federally funded programs in a school, the weaker is the authority of the principal and the less able is the school to focus relentlessly on teaching and learning. Instead, the school becomes entangled in directives, regulations, and contradictory missions. Federal programs have also had the unintended consequence of "colonizing" state education departments, by placing a majority of the department's employees on federal payrolls. The author suggests that the negative consequences of the federal role in schooling are not what its earlier opponents feared; the federal government has not imposed nefarious schemes on local schools. Instead, the real burden of the federal role stems from its structural rigidity and its inflexibility. He proposes a way out of this dilemma, while recognizing that interest groups have been aligned to keep the status quo intact, regardless of its egregious effects on schools. Comments by Christopher T. Cross and Sally Kilgore are included. (Contains 38 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A