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Federalism NCLB 1 of 5 - Federalism in Education No Child...

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Unformatted text preview: Federalism in Education No Child Left Behind hen it came to accepting federalism, the framers of the Constitution didn’t have much choice. The division of powers between the central and state governments was a given. In the framers’ view, the decen— tralized confederation of states hadn’t worked out very well, and it would have been politically unthinkable to ignore the states they represented to form a uni- fied government. What emerged was a distribution of responsibilities, with those for the federal government written into the Constitution and the far more numer- ous ones remaining with the states, as stated clearly in the Tenth Amendment. Since then, a system of cooperative federalism (more or less) has evolved. In these supportive relations the federal government provides funds to the states for policies set by Congress. Although generally lacking the ability to command the states, the federal government uses this money as a carrot (some call it a bribe) to meet Washington’s standards or fulfill policy goals. For their part, the states maneuver to get national funds without having to follow the restrictions found in federal rules, formulas, or grant proposals. The result is a complicated system of ”marble cake federalism," where intergovernmental relations have become so blurred that the line between where the federal government ends and where state and local administration begins is hard to tracewmuch like the swirls in a marble cake.1 Education has been traditionally overseen and funded on the local level, with support from the states. Since Lyndon Johnson’s "War on Poverty" programs of the 19605, the federal government has gotten increasingly involved in schools. The latest sign of this is the No Child Left Behind law, backed by the Bush admin- istration and passed in 2002 with bipartisan support. The 1,000-page bill made the schools, their local districts, and the states accountable for student academic achievements. This standards-based reform required regular testing and qualified teachers in every classroom, and was supported by increased federal funds. In terms of federalism, it marked a strengthening of Washington’s role in public edu- cation. What didn't change was the need to apply national policies to a variety 16 - Chapter 2 Federalism in Education: No Child Left Behind of state and local conditions. lt also didn't change the role of state and IC cials in achieving, changing, blocking, or ignoring implementation of thI short, federalism remained alive and well, and central to whether No Cl Behind would actually improve the public schools. 1. Federalism sets the boundaries of a struggle for power amongnational, I and local governments. This case of education reform spotlights the histc this interaction, the politic involving elected officials, and the different cationai bUreaucracies implementing the reforms. What resources does side bring to the control of education policies? How do state and local ofl limit federal influence In education? 2. Cooperative federalism' Is the use of funds by the federal government t courage (rather than command) states and localities to pursue national g How has the federal government used its money to gain state and local a ment for education changes? In the past and No Child Left Behind at pre Considering that it contributes less than 10 percent of education monies, successful has the federal government been? - - 3. The blarred distinction between the various gOvernments in the creatior implementation of national programs has been called marble cake fec ism. This lack of a clear dividing line in local state, and federal govern aCtivities Is evident In both passing and acting on No Child Left Behind, in ing test standards and teaching quality. Note how this Surfaces In pra Ways in the example of Kodiak Island schools. ‘ ’L 4, The charge against the current education reform has been that it is a funded mandate—4mposing national standards without providing adec federal money to fulfill them. Look for education reforms, both past and ent, where the federal government set out goals and requirements Ol states without providing enough for the costs of the programs. Who Is to make this argument in the battieground of federalism? - January 8, 2002, was as close as politicians get to a bipartisan pep ral months after September 11, 2001, it was good to have something ti about and something other than terrorism to focus on. President Ge Bush, With applauding members of Congress on both sides of him equally happy crowd in front, was signing a major education reform Child Left Behind. The president described it as a “new era.” Senator Kennedy echoed Democrats’ enthusiasm by calling it “a defining issu the future of our nation.” Outside of Washington the cheers were not quite as loud. NCLB an unprecedented expansion of federal authority over the 50 states, Federalism in Education - school districts, and their 80,000 public schools. NCLB established a federal system of school accountability, requiring states to develop standards in read- ing and math, and then testing students in seven grades on those standards. The new law required states to raise the qualifications for new teachers and certify the qualifications of current ones in the subjects they taught. The re- form involved more testing, more standards, and more concentration on basics such as reading and math. If they met the new demands, lower—income school districts would receive additional federal funding, and all states and school dis— tricts would have greater flexibility in how they used this money. Despite the promise of more funds, anxiety could be expected among state and local edu- cation officials across the country.2 Not that there weren’t real problems in public school education. The law addressed K—12 schooling (kindergarten through twelfth grade) where, de— spite a national average ofjust under $8,000 per child spent annually, there were widespread signs of failure. Some two-thirds of fourth graders could not read at grade level, and 88 percent of African American students and 85 per- cent of Hispanic students could not read proficiently. Even where the money seemed adequate, the results were not. (And this was in Congress’s own back- yard. The District of Columbia spent more than $13,000 per child, but it con- Sistently ranked among the lowest national scores.) The new law, through its expanded testing, aimed to hold someone accountable for failure. Under- scoring the point was that the unit being tested would no longer be only the school. Now test results would be measured by sex, race, income,.limited Eng- lish, and special education status. Each group would have to show gains in reading and math or make adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward agreed~on standards. Local districts (43%) State sources (50%) Federal government (7%) 5.. Figure 2.1 Education Spending PierChar't: Federal, State, and Local Governments 1.0 - unapm z. reuerausm 111 Education: No Child Left Behind Whether the federal government (still considered a “bit playé came to financing education—only 7 percent of the total costs of A Primer on Federalism and Education Issues of federalism have surfaced throughout the history of fed ment in education and in the legislative crafting of No Child which climaxed four decades of federal expansion in this area. Under President Lyndonjohnson, the 1965 Elementary and See cation Act appropriated $2 billion to the states to improve educa i poor. This assistance to the states continued and increased over the ‘ cent in the first five years of his administration. More positively, this ‘ administration found that the education system was producing med and that higher academic standards needed to be established. The the states. The result was that the states began implementing a v ' forms that defined a core curriculum and the basic knowledge W were expected to achieve at certain grade levels, called standards—b' federal funding to support state and local standards. The first Pre set national education goals for the year 2000,”!including raisi school graduation rate to 90 percent, requiring students to demon petency in core disciplines, and making US. students the first in t science and mathematics scores. President Clinton built on these states’ standards. Republicans, who took over Congress in 1994, s posed this increased federal role, and Clinton later dropped it. Despite this setback for federal oversight, the 1994 reauthoriza Elementary and Secondary Education Act established the com toward goals of academic achievement for all students. However, ne lines nor penalties were put in place. Federal grants underlined th tive federalism by helping the states develop their own standard A Primer on Federalism and Education . 1 was important in developing standards and tests in most states.4 Equally impor— mm was that seven years later, only one-third of the states were complying with its requirements. This slow response would frustrate Washington’s political leaders and lead to the bipartisan consensus behind No Child Left Behind.5 In 2001 George" W. Bush took office and announced that education would be his number one domestic priority. Part of his thinking was formed by his experience as governor of Texas, where he supported annual testing and rat- ing schools based on state exams. Another part was political. His Republican party had long been on the unpopular side of the education issue by pushing for cuts in spending while Democrats advocated more funds for schools. Run— ning for president as a “compassionate conservative,” Governor Bush had ex- pressed sympathy for students trapped by “the soft bigotry of low expecta- tions.” His support for a strong federal role in education policy put him at odds with Republicans, who had traditionally stressed keeping the national government out of local schools. His political flexibility was shown in the very title of the legislation, taken from the liberal Children’s Defense Fund, whose mission was “to leave no child behind.”6 Borrowing from Clinton administration education plans, Bush introduced a thirty-page general blueprint in early 2001. Learning from Clinton’s massive, and unsuccessful, 1993 health care reform bill, the Bush White House tried not to get bogged down in details. Although the plan was well received on Capitol Hill, federalism played a role in the politics of passing the bill. The states, represented by their governors, pushed for restraints on ’the federal government. They pressured the White House to weaken the bill’s require- ment that states must make adequate yearly progress among various groups of students. The fear was that many, or even most, schools would be identified as failing. They also tried to weaken the tests. To gain Democratic support for annual testing, Republicans eliminated vouchers that provided government funding for transferring students to private schools. Other compromises favorable to the states allowed school districts to average test results over three years and eliminated penalties for states with low test scores. “Accountability” was the key, if vague, term unifying support in Congress for No Child Left Behind. For Democrats, it justified a reform that would increase spending for education. For Republicans, it gave the appearance of a busi- nesslike approach to newginvestrnents in education. For the states, “accounta— bility” meant “no national tests” and no binding enforcement by the federal government. There were no penalties for states not achieving adequate yearly progress. It was left to each state to define student achievement through its own tests, leaving open the possibility that the states could then lower stan— dards. The viability of these muddy political compromises would be deter- mined in their implementation. The blurred distinctions of this marble cake ...
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