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Opinion: Lack of Federal Regulation in Education Will Disservice Underserved Children

Opinion: Lack of Federal Regulation in Education Will Disservice Underserved Children

Researcher and former teacher Conor P. Williams doesn't agrees that federal efforts in education need reform- but he doesn't think that stripping the federal government of certain powers is the way to do so.

"Right now, the educational current is flowing towards decentralization. Folks are inclined to put the power, pressure, and decision-making as far from Washington as possible," Williams said on The74Million.org. 

This is true, especially considering several GOP presidential hopefuls would like to see the Department of Education disintegrated entirely. Without a doubt, educators, policy makers and the like would like to see state and local governments with more control.

"They're tired of tests that check whether students have learned what they're supposed to in each grade. They're tired of federal efforts to pressure states and districts to put their most vulnerable students first. So they argue that progress towards educational equity will be stronger if we just 'trust states; or give districts more flexibility or some other local control mantra," he said.

Williams uses California as his example for why this is a bad idea.

California has been experimenting with local control of schools for years, which Williams says has not ended well but rather has allowed for districts to use funding in ways that don't benefit underserved schools and children.

"[A] recent study found that Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) used state funds for underserved children to hire new assistant principals and librarians across the district—including in schools with few kids in need."

And he argues that because California no longer requires its districts to "'measure or report their [ELL & low-income student] specific expenditures'" they don't. Williams says such example of local control will lead to a lack of accountability that will make it impossible to tell if local school systems are working.

"At a systemic level, there's precious little evidence that states and districts are ready to seize their achievement gaps and make uncomfortable choices about reallocating educational resources to benefit the underserved. Remove the pressure from above, and they quickly find other priorities," he said.

Read his full post here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

07/24/2015

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