Politics & Education – Part I – The Impact Federal Elections Have on Education

Whether you realize it or not, federal elections have a huge impact on education. From the President of the United States to Senators and Congressmen. They develop their educational platform to run on, hoping to persuade people to vote for them.

On the federal level, education does not get the media attention that other “hot and sexy” topics get.  During an election cycle you are likely to hear speeches and ads that focus on other important issues such as:

  • Climate change
  • Defense
  • Economic policies
  • Health care
  • Social security

That doesn’t mean that education is not greatly impacted by politics and elections. Nearly every decision being made in local schools are based on precedents set at the federal level.  The most pivotal educational laws have been legislated by the federal government.

The Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965 (ESEA), the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), and the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), were all laws enacted on the federal level. These laws impact school districts across the country.

To better understand just how the federal government impacts schools in the US, it’s best to think of the fed’s involvement in education from a bigger picture perspective.

The President, Senators, and Congressmen look at education as a whole. Their job is to assist states in providing educational equity for all students. This includes providing financial support, typically through grants, to ensure that all students receive a quality education.

In particular, federal education grants provide resources to schools so that they better meet the needs of students who are:

  • At-risk
  • Low-income
  • Minorities
  • Special needs

After the recent election, federal funding from President Biden’s Infrastructure Bill  was to include improving school buildings in disrepair, getting clean-air school buses, providing high-speed internet to those students in rural and disadvantaged areas.

While many of these issues were addressed when President Biden released his Infrastructure Plan in 2021, the cost for new school buses, internet accessibility, and safe drinking water is incredibly high so the line item for repairing dilapidated school buildings was cut.

Federal elections greatly affect school districts, administrators, teachers, students and families. While education may not be the most widely discussed topic during an election, elected federal officials certainly influence education.