Locally Owned Federally Controlled

In 1988 President George H.W. Bush famously said, “Read my lips. No new taxes!”

Prior to that and continuing into the present, fellow western Pennsylvanian, Grover Norquist has been holding Republicans feet to the fire to hold the line on taxes. Norquist reaches down into state government also to bully Republicans into signing his “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”

I know that’s not news but maybe this is.

In an effort to keep federal and state taxes low, taxes are continually being pushed down to the local level. Someone has to pay and its always going to be the same people – us. It just comes from a different revenue stream, local taxation.

This trend is especially evident in education. As state subsidies decreased over the last several years, local taxes have steadily increased. Most school districts are forced to raise taxes at the Act 1 Index every year. That is true at least for the districts who weren’t overtaxing their citizens prior to the election of Tom Corbett. Act 1 limits the amount that taxes can be raised in a school district without a tax referendum. In the 7 years since Act 1 was passed only 1 of 13 tax referendums have passed. 

This would make one think that as the funding for education is pushed to the local level the amount of local control will grow to match the original intent of public education.

Surely you’re not that naive!

No Child Left Behind began the whittling away of local control by forcing states to develop assessments in order to maintain federal funding. Local control was further eroded with the introduction of Race to the Top which required adoption of a set of nationalized Common Core State Standards and the multi measure teacher evaluation process. All necessary components of the application to compete for federal money for education.

Sounds like nationalized education to me! 


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