"The public school, Mr. Santorum said, arose “when people came off the farms where they did home-school or have the little neighborhood school, and into these big factories, so we built equal factories called public schools.
Education reformers on both the left and right criticize the uniformity of instruction that dates from mass public education. But Mr. Santorum...seems to want to substantially scale back or cancel federal and state guidelines on standards and equality of access." Mr. Santorum Defends Remarks On Obama And Government's Role In Education, New York Times, February 20, 2011
The most important resource this country has for its future is our children. We must invest in them and assure they have every possibility to learn and succeed. It is what is right for the child and it is right for the country. Education is part of the "general welfare" clause contained in The Declaration of Independence. This dictates the federal government be concerned about education.
I agree that the role needs to be better defined. Some on the far left would argue that only role of the Federal Government is to fairly distribute money to the states and let them ascertain what to do with it. As a federal taxpayer I would want some say and control of how the money is used. I want to make sure that it is being used wisely. Wisely does not mean that all states must use the funds in the same manner. It does means that state and local governments must bare most of the financial burden to educate their children.
From afar it appears that the Department of Education has gone too far in setting standards and objectives of school districts. The dolling out of federal money provides a big stick to the federal government and it should be carefull not to overuse the stick. Remember, the objective is to improve education in this country. It is not to allocate credit for doing so.