Control Over Education Modular 6:

Furthermore, despite contentions that the United States education system is based upon a schema of local and state control, advocates of a more nationalized approach point out that the father of public schools, Horace Mann, saw the “common schools” he created as “inspiring democratic advance over the states hodgepodge of privately funded and charity schools” (Miller 2010, p.1).

Advocates of federal control also point to how centralized European and Asian school systems that show consistently higher levels of performance in United States schools have national curricula and tests. “The United States spends more than nearly every other nation on schools, but out of 29 developed countries in a 2003 assessment, we ranked 24th in math and in problem-solving, 18th in science, and 15th in reading. Half of all black and Latino students in the U.S. dont graduate on time (or ever) from high school. As of 2005, about 70% of eighth-graders were not proficient in reading. By the end of eighth grade, what passes for a math curriculum in America is two years behind that of other countries” (Miller, 2010, p.1). Not only has the U.

S. fallen behind, but it has fallen behind in a fashion that negatively affects specific, historically discriminated-against population groups in districts that often lack adequate local funding yet cannot qualify for federal funding linked to performance on state exams.

Many states have impressive magnet and charter schools that are idiosyncratic in their approach to education, but overall some national standards seem necessary. Withholding federal funding to schools that fail to perform to a specific standard on national or even state exams might not be the solution to failing school districts, but neither is greater local or even state control. “Public officials are loath to take on powerful school-board associations and teachers unions; foundations and advocacy groups, who must work with the boards and unions, also pull their punches. For these reasons, as well as our natural preference for having things done nearby, support for local control still lingers, largely unexamined, among the public,” but this must change (Miller, 2010, p.1).


Miller, Matt. (2010, August 1). First, kill all the school boards. The Atlantic..

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