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by Will Estrada
- disclaimer -
Reinventing the Federal Role in Education
The federal government should not tell states how to run public schools.
The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government no power to tell the states how to run their public schools.

As part of Home School Legal Defense Association’s ongoing work to aggressively advance and defend homeschool freedom at the federal level, staff in the federal relations department regularly monitor and participate in meetings at the United States Department of Education. One such recent meeting was titled “Promoting Innovation and Reinventing the Federal Role.”

The meeting started with a promotional video lauding the economic stimulus bill passed early last year. The video claimed that over 250,000 education-related jobs have been saved because of the billions of dollars spent as part of the stimulus package. This set the stage for the entire meeting: the federal role in education has helped—let’s increase it!

HSLDA, however, is philosophically opposed to the federal government’s role in K–12 education. For most of our nation’s history, educational decisions were controlled by parents, local schools, and the states. This all began to change during the past 40 to 50 years. And now we are seeing the federal government take over more and more areas of education.

The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government no power to tell the states how to run their public schools. However, the federal government gets around this by giving states federal tax dollars to spend on education and then setting conditions on how recipients may operate their schools. Even though federal spending is only around 8% of the estimated $1 trillion total spent on education annually, most states want this money so badly that they will agree to almost any federal policy.

Arne Duncan
Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education

That is why HSLDA has taken a strong stand against recent attempts to create federally funded early education and home visitation programs. Even though such measures would start off as voluntary programs, they will only increase the federal government’s role in education and control over children of all ages. Homeschoolers understand that if you give the government an inch, it will only be a matter of time before it takes a mile.

As the 111th Congress takes up educational issues during its second session, HSLDA will continue to fight attempts to increase the federal government’s role in education. We will persistently lobby and work toward returning educational decisions to their proper spheres: parents and local governments. And above all, we will fight to make sure that homeschoolers remain completely free of any federal control.