Rethinking the Federal Role in Education

by Paul Berman, Milbrey Wallin McLaughlin

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Reviews recent research findings on federal support for improved educational practice and recommends changes in policy to take cognizance of the structure and behavior of school districts and state educational agencies. Past federal policy failures can be traced to unrealistic expectations, incorrect assumptions about local school district behavior and poor implementation. Recommendations: (1) Establish area cooperative programs, staffed by practitioners on leave from school districts in a region, to provide assistance to districts for implementation of federal programs, state reform efforts, and local change efforts. (2) Establish a district-based professional growth program to provide for staff development on a regular basis. (3) Revise ESEA Title IV to strengthen state agencies so they can more effectively influence local educational performance. (4) Develop accounting and programmatic control procedures that permit the integration of federal and state or local categorical funds.

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