Friday, March 5, 2010

The federal government should remove its heavy hand from education

While it is good that federal, state and local governments are all having a conversation about accountability in education, it really is up to parents, teachers and local school administrators to improve the system that prepares our youth for the global economy, Congressional Candidate Frank Guinta told a Town Hall meeting crowd in Londonderry.

“I believe in local control, and I think local communities should be making decisions, and I think that’s where the best decisions are made,” Guinta said. “And if you don’t like those decisions, you have an opportunity at the local level to influence the people making those decisions.”

Guinta, who as mayor served as chairman of the Manchester School Committee, said the number one complaint he heard from local administrators and teachers was about the federal mandates from the U.S. Department of Education, which overseas the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

“While there were high hopes and expectations from teachers in its inception, the reality that teachers convey to me is that it is time consuming, not effective and it’s burdensome in terms of the regulations that you have to follow,” he said.

The Department of Education has a $47 billion budget this year. It received an additional $81 billion in stimulus funds, and centrally decides how to spend the money on the nation’s roughly 99,000 school districts. For every dollar New Hampshire taxpayers send to Washington, the state receives about 75-to-78 cents back, Guinta said.

“What have we received for that amount of money that we’ve sent to Washington?," Guinta said. "To have them decide federal policy and establish a blanket policy for every school district in the country.

“So, why don’t we just keep the money here--not send it down--then we can figure out locally how to invest in our communities and invest in our state?,” Guinta added. “That’s what limited government means. We don’t need federal policies at every level dictating to us how we need to run our communities. That needs to change.”

Further, Guinta noted that the U.S. Department of Education was established by the Carter Administration in 1979 and took effect in 1980, making the point that it is not a longstanding department. He suggested that Congress should reconsider the usefulness and constitutionality of the Department of Education and consider eliminating it from the federal government.