Poll: School board members prefer diminished federal role in education
FOR RELEASE: July 30, 2015
The federal government should play a less active role in how schools evaluate teachers, test students or adopt learning standards, according to a poll of school board members.
"As Congress debates reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, most school board members across the state would like to see the federal government take a less aggressive role in public education at the state and local levels," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer.
Kremer noted that the state's annual testing mandate for students in grades 3-8 comes from the federal government. He also pointed out that a federal grant program, Race to the Top, provided states such as New York with significant funds in exchange for adopting college and career readiness standards and implementing teacher evaluation systems that incorporate student achievement on standardized tests.
Specifically, 80 percent of members responding to the poll oppose federal government intervention in how states evaluate schools and teachers, while only 13 percent support it, and 8 percent were not sure.
About two-thirds of board members (65 percent) oppose the U.S. Department of Education offering incentives to states to adopt any particular set of learning standards. Nearly one-quarter of respondents (24 percent) favored federal incentives, while 11 percent were not sure.
In addition, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents oppose the federal requirement that states test all students in grades 3-8 in English and math each year. About 29 percent support the requirement, while about 8 percent were not sure.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act is the federal law that funds primary and secondary education. The last time ESEA was reauthorized was in 2002 with the passage of No Child Left Behind.
"School board members are saying quite clearly that local control of schools is a hallmark of our public education system," said Kremer. "Decisions about testing, evaluation and standards should be made at the local level."
"NYSSBA urges Congress to ensure the reauthorized federal law reaffirms local school board governance, sustains elementary and secondary education funding and prohibits diverting public funds to non-public schools," he added.
The informal three-question poll of school board members was conducted in July 2015 and received between 557 and 560 responses, depending on the question.