The U.S. Department of Education is not supposed to control U.S. education.

It was created to serve schools, protect the rights of the neediest children, and coordinate funding programs, not to tell schools what to do.

One prong of the corporate reform movement seeks to strip local school boards of their responsibility, because they don’t like privatization.

The National School Boards Association listened to Secretary Duncan and a leading Republican member of Congress yesterday, then released this statement:

NSBA contact: Linda Embrey, Communications Office

School Board Leaders Advocate for Less Intrusive Role of the U.S. Department of Education

Alexandria, Va. (Jan. 29, 2013) – More than 700 school board members and state school boards association leaders will be meeting with their members of Congress and urging them to co-sponsor legislation, developed by the National School Boards Association (NSBA), to protect local school district governance from unnecessary and counter-productive federal intrusion from the U.S. Department of Education.

School board leaders are in Washington D.C. to take part in NSBA’s 40th annual Federal Relations Network Conference, being held Jan. 27-29, 2013.

The proposed legislation would ensure that the Department of Education’s actions are consistent with the specific intent of federal law and are educationally, operationally, and financially supportable at the local level. This would also establish several procedural steps that the Department of Education would need to take prior to initiating regulations, rules, grant requirements, guidance documents, and other regulatory materials.

“In recent years, the U.S. Department of Education has engaged in a variety of activities to reshape the educational delivery system,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director. “All too often these activities have impacted local school district policy and programs in ways that have been beyond the specific legislative intent. School board leaders are simply asking that local flexibility and decision-making not be eroded through regulatory actions.”

Additionally, this legislation is intended to provide the House of Representatives and Senate committees that oversee education with better information regarding the local impact of Department of Education’s activities. The legislation is also designed to more broadly underscore the role of Congress as the federal policy-maker in education and through its representative function.

“We must ensure that the decisions made at the federal level will best support the needs and goals of local school systems and the communities they serve,” said Gentzel. “Local school boards must have the ability to make on-the-ground decisions that serve the best interests of our school districts.”