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State and Local Government Groups Push for Federal Education Reform

February 7, 2012

There has been a call by five municipal groups to reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESA) to reframe the federal, state, and local education partnership.  The groups include the National Governor’s Association, the National Conference of State Legislators, The Council of State Governments, the National Association of Counties, and the National School Board Association.  These groups are seeking to reform the ESA because currently it does not afford states and local governments with enough flexibility to prepare their students and provide them with a world-class public education, which is a service that state and local governments must provide.

The groups outlined their reform suggestions to congress in a letter, which included providing greater flexibility to state and local leaders, increasing flexibility in federal funding, recognizing state and local budget challenges, streamlining federal red tape and compliance requirements, and streamlining the waiver process.  They mention that with these reforms state and local governments will increase innovation in the way they educate and therefore prepare students for college and beyond.  The federal policies in place now limit innovation at the state level hindering education.

The impact of unprepared students, as they leave high school and enter college, can be enormous. For example recently the State University of New York has stated that they spend 70 million dollars in their budget for remedial work helping unprepared college students.  This tax payer money is spent helping students who are not prepared for college get up to speed.  This is a problem that needs to be fixed at the source and more collaboration must occur at the elementary and secondary levels of education.  Reforming the ESA is one step to solving this problem.  However, education reform is a subject that all state and local governments should examine when trying to improve governments services and increase government efficiency.

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