Federalism: A Shared Power to Govern

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Federalism is the concept where the power to govern is shared between the central governing unit and the constituent political units, and in the United States, this is the United States government and the States of the Union. This article from the Huffington Post describes the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT, passed approximately ten years ago, which was an attempt by the federal government to improve the failing education system in the United States. Each state had different standards to what they were measuring their students to. The idea of this act was to establish a baseline and start to improve it. This Act provides funding to the states with the intention of providing fair and equal opportunity to a high quality education. In reality, underperforming schools were actually penalized, and overall the states have lowered their current standards in order to meet federally mandated targets. For example, the federal government mandated 100% proficiency in math and reading by 2014. In order to meet this, the states have changed their definition of what is considered proficient. All the parties involved, including Congress, the states, and Obama recognize that this law needs to be revised but no group has come forward with a solution so far. This type of federalism is an example of both cooperative and conflicting federalism. It is cooperative in that everyone agrees and wants to improve our educational system and have fair opportunity for all. The application of this law however is conflicting because what the states are doing in order to achieve the targets and secure the funding is counterproductive to actually improving the education system. More time is spent trying to meet the 100% proficient goal, adjusting the pace for the underperformers than in challenging and developing the achievers, lowering the total performance. The type of power implied in this article regarding the NCLB is reserved power. The constitution does not delegate the authority to regulate education, nor is it forbidden to the states. This power is reserved for the people of the United States, implemented by the individual states through the elected officials. The NCLB Act provides funding through grants for many areas in education based on the schools showing the most economic need and the highest commitment to improvement. The Federal government had good intentions in trying to improve the educational system and set up criteria for distributing funding, and establishing common measurements to be improved upon, but in the end, the educational system is still not improving. The states are also losers in this because they have compromised their standards in order to be common with the federally mandated guidelines. The people are also losers because tax dollars are to be used for the education and betterment of the children of the United States in order to secure our national future, and federalism is preventing this from happening. Currently, waivers are being signed by the Department of Education to provide funding to schools that wouldn’t have gotten it based on the criteria established by the NCLB Act until a decision can be reached on how to fix what is broken.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/16/no-child-left-behind-reauthorization-federalism_n_927718.html Much has been said about the ineffectiveness of No Child Left Behind, the sweeping, decade-old federal education law that uses student performance on standardized tests as the barometer for academic achievement. Standards mandated by the law were supposed to increase school accountability on a national scale, but they are now often criticized for unfairly penalizing underperforming schools. NCLB has been up for reauthorization since 2007, but despite President Obama's prodding, neither chamber of Congress has come up with a comprehensive alternative. That stagnation, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, is why he and the president are making...
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