Control Over Education is Most Important States' Rights Issue Facing Country Today

On Friday, I visited my alma mater, Incarnate Word Academy, and spoke with students in AP government. They had great questions, including one I've never been asked before, “what do you think is the most important states' rights issue today?” I had to pause for a second and think about it. Is it the definition of marriage, the ability of states to enforce border security and immigration laws, legalization of marijuana, or something else? I went with something else and, actually, having thought about it over the weekend, am even more convinced that I was right in my answer that control over education is the most important states' rights issue facing the country today.

Even though the word “education” is not mentioned once in the U.S. Constitution, the federal government asserts extensive controls over local school districts through programs like No Child Left Behind and the attempted impositions of mandatory curriculum like Common Core. Studies show that around 20¢ of every federal dollar spent on education never makes it out of Washington, D.C. It goes to federal workers writing and enforcing federal rules on education. I’d bet another 20¢ is spent at the state and local level complying with these rules and dealing with the federal paperwork. If we got the federal government out of the education business and just block granted money to schools we’d save 40% on education spending with no change in the amount of money that makes it to the classroom. Another reason that the states and local school districts need more control is that one size fits all education policy is nonsense. South Texas has much different education needs than Boston, or Detroit. I know with more local control and fewer federal strings we’d see more innovative programs in vocational, technical, and career training like the Craft Training Center in Corpus Christi and partnerships with community colleges for duel credit and industry certifications that lead to high paying jobs and little or no college debt.


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