Public Rejects Red Tape, Federal Intrusion

Published June 1, 2000

In a research summary released last December, National Capital Strategies, Inc. (NCS) documented “a burgeoning intrusion of the federal government into public education” since 1965, even though there is no constitutional basis for the national government’s involvement in the education of children.

“There are now an astonishing 760 federal education programs administered by a Department of Education that did not even exist until the Carter administration,” noted the report.

On average, the federal government provides only about 7 percent of a state’s total education dollars. But the NCS report warned this figure fails to reflect the “massive amount of control that is imposed on states when they accept any federal funding.” Mandates always accompany federal dollars, noted NCS, “and the mandates imposed on education funding are comprehensive and burdensome.”

A national survey conducted as part of NCS’s study revealed that almost one-third of the public think the federal government provides more than half of taxpayer money spent on education. Only one respondent in six correctly estimated the federal government’s share at less than 10 percent. Despite this misconception about the federal government’s role in funding local schools, more than two-thirds of the respondents, or 68.6 percent, said the federal government should not be able to tell local schools how to spend the money or how to teach.

Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed, 73.6 percent, said their local schools should be ultimately accountable to parents and local school districts. Of the remainder, only 2.3 percent chose the federal government for ultimate accountability, with 11.8 percent choosing the state government and 10.3 percent choosing “all of the above.”