The federal role in education has created an enormous compliance burden for states and local schools. Some of this can be quantified in terms of paperwork, time, and resources. But the cost of compliance should also be calculated in terms of the erosion of good governance in education. The proliferation of federal programs and the ever-increasing prescription of federally driven systemic reform distract school-level personnel and local and state leaders from serving their primary customers: students, parents, and taxpayers. The status quo engenders a client mentality as officials at the state and local level are consumed with calibrating the public education system to Washington’s wishes. To succeed, education reform must be more accountable directly to parents and taxpayers.
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