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Why do States Have Rule over Education?

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State authorities have more control over education in the US the education system than federal or local authorities. In fact, the Constitution does not provide for education under its clauses, but since education is so important; the government has ensured that education is available to all without unequal measure. Many have questioned this distribution of educational power. Why do states have rule over education? Why is the federal body not the decisive executors of education similar to other basic needs of the country?

The answer comes with understanding the vastness of the United States of America and the vast amount of diversity within its borders. Each state is almost as large as or larger than some of the smaller countries of the world; and consequently, each location has its unique requirements and capabilities. Specific attention to individualistic positions, scopes and requirements of education according to location were considered too varied and vast for the federal authority to cope with. The federal government is not without authority, however, as the federal government exercises control at times based on the amount of funding it provides states. This is especially true in higher education, as the federal government wields its unofficial power by set strict requirements for schools to be eligible for federal grant and loan programs, something that almost no college or university can survive without.

This is true in primary and secondary education also. Each state is responsible to submit their requisition for educational grants and funds individually to be eligible for federal funding. Therefore, the federal government can control state systems by funding programs that are deemed acceptable within its standards and by granting more aid to some states as compared to others based on their proposals. However, states do not get most of their educational funding from the federal government; in fact most of the funding comes from the state taxation system. Therefore, states can choose not to follow federal guidelines for funding and still run their educational system outside of the federal guidelines. Most choose, however, to follow federal guidelines in order to receive federal aid.

As mentioned above, most of the funding for the state's respective educational systems comes from the state itself, and this is another one of the main reasons for state control. The system works on the premise that if it was the state taxpayers who paid for the schools, they should be the ones who direct how that money is used.

Another reason for state control is better coordination. Since local bodies are responsible for the educational grant execution and sanction within their district, it is easier for the state government to coordinate these disbursals. It is also easier for the state government to assess and oversee local districts.

The states do have rule over their own respective educational systems, and for good reasons. Even though the federal government does exert its influence when it comes to funding, the states ultimately make the decisions for the sake of their citizens.

More Information On School Governance

  1. Centralization of Control Over Educational Decision-Making
  2. Strengthening School Governance
  3. The Center on Educational Governance

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