Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children

For nearly 100 years the federal government left education almost entirely in the hands of state and local governments. Gradually, however, federal restraint gave way, culminating in 1979 with the creation of the US Department of Education—a sprawling bureaucracy with more than 4,000 employees, over 100 programs, and an annual budget of approximately $70 billion. What caused this dramatic transformation? Has it improved student performance? And how can we best ensure that America’s schoolchildren will get the education they need for thriving in an increasingly technological, competitive global economy?

Education reform expert Vicki E. Alger takes up these questions in Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children, an in-depth look at federal education policy that will both enlighten and enrage.

Federal involvement in education, Alger shows, has been an epic failure—a failure of myriad ineffective educational programs, a failure of massive wasteful spending, and a failure of the Department of Education to be a partner with state and local governments, rather than a boss. Fortunately, her rigorous assessment enables Alger to identify and articulate the best strategy for success—namely, decentralizing education policy by ending federal involvement, returning power to state and local governments, and implementing parental choice.

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