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Issues for a New Administration: The Federal Role in Education

Brenda J. Turnbull, Marshall S. Smith and Alan L. Ginsburg
American Journal of Education
Vol. 89, No. 4 (Aug., 1981), pp. 396-427
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1085122
Page Count: 32
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Issues for a New Administration: The Federal Role in Education
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Abstract

A new administration that advocates budget reductions, program consolidations, and deregulations in domestic policy is bringing major changes to the federal Department of Education. Created just a year ago, the department administers many programs that were forged in the 1960s and 1970s to increase equity and quality in the nation's schools. While the authors strongly endorse the purposes of these programs, it is contended that the prospect of reforming the overall program structure should be welcomed since it offers a chance to make the federal role more effective. Several new conditions suggest a need for reform: new social and fiscal problems have revealed the inflexibility of existing programs; many state governments are now addressing concerns that were once exclusively federal; the proliferation of programs and controls may impede effective educational practice; and research findings have challenged old beliefs about how to influence the schools. These arguments for reform are reviewed, and four strategies are outlined: (1) a major program consolidation combining dozens of programs into broad-purpose funding pools; (2) retention of most of the current program structure, implementing modest reforms within it; (3) differential treatment of states according to the extent to which they adopt federal goals; and (4) use of new accountability mechanisms, permitting schools to combine federal, state, and local resources into schoolwide programs that would address all students' needs. Some combination of elements from these strategies, it is argued, could promote federal goals for education and reduce current administrative rigidities.

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