Localized education is best for students

Written by The Likely Voter

August 3, 2023

Families are increasingly moving toward parent-driven education, as public education fails to meet students where they are. As this trend continues, it’s important to keep in mind the benefits of localized education.

Minimizes political interference

“When the federal government gets involved – especially the executive branch – their policy tends to reflect the views of the current presidential administration, not always the needs of the kids,” said Sutherland’s education policy fellow, Christine Fairbanks, in a recent interview.

One example is the adoption and implementation of the Common Core educational standards.

The federal government used competitive grants to incentivize and encourage the implementation of Common Core or similar standards nationwide. Soon, political complaints arose because of the belief that the nationwide standard encroached on states’ policy power and limited a district’s ability to tailor to specific needs and competencies.

States are better thought leaders

“States are more nimble than the federal government with education policy,” Fairbanks said.

The size and scope of the federal government makes it difficult for its institutions to be thought leaders, especially in education reform, as demonstrated with Common Core.

Other important reforms like the creation of charter schools, education savings accounts and vouchers were made possible by state and local policymakers. These alternatives provided families the opportunity to give their students an education that fulfilled their unique learning needs.

Allows for tailored education

America consists of diverse regions, resources, needs and interests. By attempting to establish a one-size-fits-all education system, the federal government would be disregarding how students’ needs vary significantly throughout the nation.

“The federal government can’t possibly know everything that is happening in every town and district,” Fairbanks said in an interview.

State and local officials are closer to the students. They are better equipped to see a specific need and adapt. Tailoring education to the needs of the students and setting them up for success in the market around them creates a more qualified and equipped workforce in the future.


With education at the forefront of the 2024 election, federal legislators and departments should leave the issue with state and local leaders.

As polarization sees a five-decade high in Congress, tasking them with education standards creates a risk of losing the best interest of students. Maintaining local control of education keeps students’ futures and parental input in mind.

For a more in-depth perspective on this article, read our Insights piece here.

Takeaways: the most important things voters need to know. For civically engaged citizens.  

  • Federal education policy tends to be politically motivated by the current presidential administration.
  • State and local policymakers have more mobility to provide a tailored education program for their students.
  • In education policy, Congress should let the states and local districts lead.

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