Acton Institute Powerblog

The Nose of a Camel: The Federal Government and Education

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Federal involvement in education has grown steadily throughout the nation’s history, encroaching on what is still viewed by American’s as mostly a state and local responsibility. Kevin Schmiesing looks at a new book that examines U.S. education policy, the red tape and bureaucracy that has resulted, and the opposition to federal control that arose from parochial school administrators.

Read the full text here.

Jonathan Spalink


  • SteveD

    If one looks at what is already happening in terms of federal regulation and court intrusion into religious colleges (forcing them to accept overtly gay and lesbian faculty and student groups if they accept federal funds — even through student loans), one can see a very good reason why voucher systems for primary and secondary schools are dangerous to parental control over their children’s education and to private control of private schools.

    The sad root of "free" "public" "education" is that it was originally promoted by some "mainstream Protestants" to lure Catholic, Jewish, and Orthodox children away from parochial schools and into public schools where they could be exposed to Protestant traditions and values rather than those of their "old country" parents.

    Today, these schools are far from "free" — they cost far more per pupil than private schools in most areas; they are publicly funded by taxes but not really publicly controlled — they are controlled by union bosses, judges, and bureaucrats; and they do not generally educate — at best, they train in basics ("3 Rs") and actually tend to stifle independent thought.

  • Jude Chua Soo Meng

    Thanks for this very pertinent review!

  • David Pendleton

    This article illustrates the two statist tendencies in democracies: to regulate and then to federalize. For some reason, many are under the illusion that if something is important it must be politically regulated, taxed, legislated in order to be done right. How patently false. Did it take government regulation, taxation, or legislation to place dozens of Starbucks Coffee houses through the State of Hawaii? No, the private sector and free markets made that happen. Was it the government that put Internet access into private homes and cell phones into people’s hands? No. the private sector and free market made that happen. So why do we think we need the government to do anything important? And why do we think that if the government furthest from us does it then it’ll be done best? We call it "free public education," but look at how costly it has been.