Policy Documents

Reducing the Federal Footprint on Education and Empowering State and Local Leaders

June 2, 2012

Increasing federal intervention and the resulting burden of complying with federal programs, rules, and regulations has caused a significant growth in state bureaucracy, much of which has a parasitic relationship with federal education programs, straining the time and resources of local schools. Instead of responding first to students, parents, and taxpayers, federal education funding has encouraged state education systems and local school districts to orient their focus to the demands of Washington. Instead of building on the failed policies of the past and continuing top-down education reform from Washington, a drastically different approach should be taken to significantly limit the federal role in education and empower state and local leaders. The proposed Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) Act directs educational accountability to those with the most at stake in student and school success: parents and taxpayers. At the same time, policymakers should downsize the Department of Education by drastically reducing program count and putting an end to the education spending spree. Heritage Foundation education policy expert Lindsey Burke explains how the A-PLUS approach, combined with measures to eliminate and consolidate the majority of federal education programs, could decrease the failed federal role, and return appropriate control of education to states and localities.