Thursday, September 17 is Constitution Day, marking the 228th anniversary of the document that laid the groundwork for the great experiment that is the United States of America.
Through a series of Articles and Amendments, the Framers of the Constitution provided the blueprint for federalism — that is the way in which the federal government interacts with states, and the governmental powers afforded to each entity.
When properly applied, federalism has allowed for governments at each level to function in a way that best serves the American people. The Parent Power Index (PPI) is a reflection of how this system has allowed states to implement their own meaningful reforms that improve student outcomes. PPI actually aids in the federalist process by facilitating the spread of successful programs to other states, as it measures how well state policies and their implementation, in addition to access to information about options, allow for a greater number of excellent education opportunities for the most number of parents.
However, federalism now faces significant challenges, particularly when it comes to education reform.
One challenge to federalism is the debate surrounding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), at the heart of which is defining the proper role of Congress in education. Lawmakers need to realize that the federal government’s role should be that of assessment and data gathering, while setting up the right balance of carrot and stick when distributing funds to state and local school boards.
Understanding the federalist system the Founding Fathers put in place 228 years ago is critical to ensuring the success of education reform. Failure to achieve the right dynamic does a disservice to the millions of students in need of improved schools and more educational options.
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