After the controversy surrounding the confirmation of new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Five on Your Side wanted to know how much of a role the Federal Government plays in the education of your children.
“The impact of the Federal Government could influence how we think or behave as a local school district, but, at the end of the day, we're accountable to our parents,” said Mike Fulton, Pattonville School District Superintendent.
Fulton said federal funding varies from district to district. It can account for up to 10 percent of a school district’s budget. It funds programs such as free and reduced lunch. Federal money also goes toward educating impoverished students, and students with special needs.
“We're still going to educate those students,” said Paul Ziegler, the incoming director of Education Plus and the Northwest School District Superintendent. “If they need things or services, we're going to provide those. If the Federal Government moves out of the area of special education, it’s going to force more on the local taxpayer.”
From a policy standpoint, the Federal Government can implement sweeping changes, like the No Child Left Behind Act, signed in 2002. More recently, the Every Student Succeeds Act was passed in 2015. Educators said much of that law has not even made its way into the classroom yet. They said the process for implementing change from the federal to the local level is usually slow.
“Some rollout could happen relatively quickly. Others could take years,” Fulton said.
Educators said the curriculum is decided by school boards. So, they said, it is just as important — if not more important — to get involved on a local level.
“American schools are unique. As a citizen, you can get involved on multiple levels,” Fulton said.