Federal Money and Federal Control of Schools

Mar 10, 2016 by

Steps used by members of Congress to enter the U.S. House of Representatives are empty at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

Federal Money and Federal Control of Schools

By Henry W. Burke



The federal government contributes only 9 % of the total education funding for U.S. public schools, yet the government exercises tremendous control over the local schools in this country.


How is the federal government controlling the schools in America?  This report will count the ways!


Our only hope of getting the federal government out of controlling education lies in the 2016 Presidential election.



The U.S. Department of Education has expanded tremendously since it was created in 1979, growing from $11.5 billion in 1980 to $67 billion in 2015.  Since 1980, the federal government has spent nearly $1.5 trillion on education, with very poor results.  The bloated bureaucracy has added layer upon layer of red tape on the states and school districts, requiring the education leaders to comply with more than 150 federal education programs. 


If that was not bad enough, the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) adds new education programs and expands federal control and paperwork requirements even more. 





On 2.11.16, I wrote the report “Federal Education Aid Is a Pittance.”  Here is the link:



Richard Innes of the Bluegrass Institute published an excellent article on 2.1.16 entitled “Education Feeding at the Federal Trough.”  Mr. Innes determined that the best available source to compare education funding in the 50 states was the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Public Education Finances” documents.  Richard Innes utilized the latest Census Bureau edition, which was issued in June 2015 (for Fiscal Year 2013).    




The following tables are based on the Richard Innes article and the U.S. Census Bureau document.


In Fiscal Year 2013, the United States spent $597.9 billion ($597,930 million) on education.  The breakdown includes $54.4 billion ($54,367 million) by the federal government, $272.9 billion ($272,917 million) by the states, and $270.6 billion ($270,646 million) by local entities.  This translates to 9.1 % by the federal government, 45.6 % by state governments, and 45.3 % by local entities.


By contributing only 9 % of the total education expense, the federal government exercises tremendous control over the states and the local school districts.  Financing of education in this country is provided primarily at the state and local levels.  The figures in the Census Bureau document prove this is true.   


How much education money is your state receiving from the federal government?  The following Tables provide a condensed view of the financial aid for four states.  To obtain the financial information for all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia), consult the report “Federal Education Aid Is a Pittance” at this link:




Table 1 – K-12 Education Finances – Revenue Amounts (FY 2013)

 (Millions of Dollars)


State Total



K-12 Revenue Source


Federal State Local
Wyoming     1,693      113        881        699
Nebraska     3,795      366     1,218     2,211
Texas   49,909   5,696   19,238   24,975
California   66,446   7,836   35,141   23,469
  U.S. Totals 597,930 54,367 272,917 270,646



Richard Innes, Bluegrass Institute, “Education Feeding at the Federal Trough,” 2.1.16.


U.S. Census Bureau, “Public Education Finances: 2013,” Issued June 2015, Table 1. 



Comments on Table 1:

  1. Table 1 shows Education Finance figures for Elementary and Secondary schools.  Finance statistics from the three sources of funds are listed (federal, state, and local).
  2. The Total Education Finance amount for U.S. public schools is $597,930 million ($597.9 billion).
  3. The overall U.S. federal contribution is $54,367 million ($54.4 billion). 
  4. Nebraska received $366 million from the federal government, $1,218 million from the State of Nebraska, and $2,211 million from local sources; Total Revenue for Nebraska was $3,795 million ($3.8 billion).
  5. Texas obtained $5,696 million ($5.7 billion) from the federal government, $19,238 million ($19.2 billion) from the State of Texas, and $24,975 million ($25.0 billion) from local sources.



Table 2 – K-12 Education Finances: Percentages & Rank (FY 2013)


State Percentage Contribution Federal Percentage


Federal State Local
Mississippi    16.0%    49.9%    34.1%           1
California    11.8%    52.9%    35.3%         15
Texas    11.4%    38.6%    50.0%         16
Nebraska      9.6%    32.1%    58.3%         24
New Jersey      4.1%    38.7%    57.2%         51
  U.S.      9.1%    45.6%    45.3%         —


Comments on Table 2:

  1. Table 2 lists the Percentage Contributions for the three Revenue sources (federal, state, and local) whereas Table 1 showed only the Revenue Amounts.

Additionally Table 2 lists the state rank for federal revenue percentage contribution.

  1. The percentage contributed by federal sources ranges from 16.0 % for Mississippi (Rank No. 1) to 4.1 % for New Jersey (Rank No. 51).   3.  California received the most federal revenue ($7,836 million in Table 1), but was ranked No. 15 (at 11.8 %) in percentage contribution.
  2. Nebraska received 9.6 % from the federal government, 32.1 % from the State, and 58.3 % from local governmental sources.
  3. Texas is ranked No. 16 at 11.4 % federal contribution toward education finances.  Texas received the second highest Revenue amount ($5,696 million in Table 1).  
  4. The average percentage contributed by the federal government is 9.1 % (for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia).




Table 3– K-12 Education Finances & Spending: Amount Per Pupil (FY2013)

State Finance


Per Pupil




For Finance



Per Pupil




For Spending

District of Columbia   29,427         1   17,953         3
New York   22,587         2   19,818         1
Nebraska   12,514       21   11,579       18
Texas  10,191       40     8,299       45
Idaho     7,408       51     6,791       50
Utah     7,650       50     6,555       51
    U.S.   12,380       —   10,700       —


Comments on Table 3:

  1. How do you compare education revenue amounts between the states?  The typical common denominator is the number of students.  Table 3 shows the education finance amounts per pupil for each of the six states.  This Table also includes “Current Education Spending” figures (in the right two columns).
  2. For every state, Current Spending per Pupil is somewhat less than Finance Revenue per Pupil.  For the U.S. as a whole, Current Spending per Pupil is about 86 % of Finance Revenue per Pupil.  On a per student basis:

[$10,700/$12,380 = 86.4 %]

  1. For Nebraska, the Finance Amount per Pupil was $12,514; and the Spending Amount per Pupil was $11,579.
  2. For Texas, the Finance Amount per Pupil was $10,191; and the Spending Amount per Pupil was $8,299.
  3. The highest Finance Amount per Pupil was the District of Columbia at $29,427 per student (Rank No. 1).
  4. The highest Spending Amount per Pupil was New York at $19,818 per student (Rank No. 1).
  5. The average Finance Amount per Pupil was $12,380 per student (all of U.S.); the average Spending Amount per Pupil was $10,700 per student (all 51 “states”).


Federal control of education in this country is becoming a “fait accompli.”  The following Sections cover some of the ways the federal government has taken control of our local schools.



Federal control over education comes in many forms and some of the forms are quite subtle.  Data mining is a prime example of that subtle, hidden control.

Under agreements that every state signed to get Stimulus funds, the states must share students’ academic data with the federal government.  The State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) is very pervasive and intrusive. 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) formerly protected highly personal psychological and biological information.  Parents and teachers may think that federal privacy laws protect them, but the Obama Administration reinterpreted these laws in 2011. 

Data mining is very intrusive!  Some of the intrusive items include the following: healthcare history, disciplinary record, family income range, family voting status, religious affiliation, fingerprints, retina and iris scans, voiceprints, DNA sequence, facial characteristics, and handwriting.

The federal government’s U.S. Department of Education (USED) will track a students’ personal records from “cradle to grave.”  Unlike a minor’s criminal records, the student data lasts forever!

Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins published an alarming article on 11.21.15, entitled “U. S. Dept. of Education Data System Riddled with Vulnerabilities for Students.”



The article revealed these startling findings:

          At an extraordinary hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held on November 17, Inspector General Kathleen Tighe testified that USED’s so-called “data security” system is riddled with vulnerabilities.

          Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz summed up the problem: “[Al]most half of the population of the United States of America has their personal information sitting in this database, which is not secure.”



Federal control of education is ensured through the Common Core Standards and College and Career-Ready Standards.


One of the big propaganda ploys of the Common Core Standards is to say that they are College and Career-Ready.  However, nobody connected with the Common Core can explicitly describe what that term means; and the Common Core Standards are not internationally benchmarked nor have they been piloted to prove their academic superiority. 


I explored this subject in detail with my 10.6.15 report, “Common Core College and Career Standards: Big Fraud.”



The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has deemed that its Common Core Standards are College and Career Ready; and many state agencies make the same claim. Unfortunately, they have no hard data with which to back up their claims!


The Pioneer Report on “Lowering the Bar” concludes by offering this chilling indictment against Common Core:


          At this time we can conclude only that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.



My 10.6.15 report on College and Career Readiness included the following information:

As a direct result of the federal government’s Race to the Top program, 45 states (plus the District of Columbia) adopted the Common Core Standards in 2010 and 2011.  Today 42 states plus D.C. are using Common Core (according to the Common Core website).


The ACT evaluates College and Career Readiness for students across the country.  On the National Level, the situation is not good.  According to the 2014 ACT test results, only 26 % of the high school graduates met all four college readiness benchmarks (English, Reading, Mathematics, and Science).  English was 64 %, Reading was 44 %, Mathematics was 43 %, and Science was 37 %.



Over the last five years, the scores are trending downward for most subjects.  Since 2012, College Readiness has dropped in English, Reading, and Mathematics.  Reading experienced the largest drop, from 52 % in 2012 to 44 % in 2013.  This coincides very closely with the implementation of Common Core in most states.


The engineering colleges at most universities require incoming freshmen students to have taken four years of high school math, preferably through Calculus.  Other STEM fields (like science and medicine) have similar requirements for high school math.


Because the Common Core Math Standards basically end in the middle of Algebra 2, students following Common Core will not be prepared for STEM careers.  In order to be fully prepared for the Math requirements of STEM, students should have taken Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus in Middle School and High School.  Few high school graduates have taken this full series of math courses. 


According to the ACT, only 6 % of the nation’s high school graduates have taken the full series of courses (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus).  Only 7 % of the nation’s students have taken this series of courses, except Calculus.  (Because the ACT provides detailed reports for each state, the public can obtain a wealth of information for their particular state.)





On December 10, 2015, Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  ESSA is a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

I covered this subject in my 1.11.16 report “Why ESSA Is Bad for America.”




  1. States Are Forced to Use Common Core


Under the new ESSA law, states will be forced to use the Common Core Standards.  Jane Robbins of American Principles Project explained this in a Breitbart article.



In simple terms, Jane Robbins found:

  • “The state plan (which includes the state standards) must be coordinated with 11 different federal statutes.”
  • “If the state standards must be coordinated to all these, that means the standards must be either Common Core or something like Common Core.”
  1. States Must Align Standards to ESSA College Requirements


Jane Robbins explains that the ESEA/NCLB rewrite bill also requires that the standards chosen must be aligned to the requirements of higher education:


“There’s obviously a huge disparity between the requirements of a community college and, say, Harvard…So since ESSA also requires that ALL students be held to these standards (with the exception of those with the most severe cognitive disabilities), states will obviously choose the community-college standards. Guess what standards are already out there that are (admittedly) designed to prepare students only for community college? Common Core.”



Dr. Sandra Stotsky made a similar argument in a 12.24.15 article “How State Departments of Education Have Deliberately Deceived Parents about Common Core: Does the End Justify the Means?”



In another article, Jane Robbins makes it clear that ESSA mandates alignment with Common Core.  The specific standards language of ESSA dictates that:

          “Each State shall demonstrate that the challenging academic standards are aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in the system of public higher education in the State and relevant State career  and technical education standards” (p.48).  This is simply another way of saying states must have “college-and career-ready” standards.  And as made clear by the U.S. Department of Education’s own materials, “college-and career-ready” means Common Core.”



A cursory review of the ESSA measure might suggest that the law eliminates Common Core.  Do not believe it for a minute!  When ESSA demands “College and Career-Ready Standards,” you should understand that these are code words for “Common Core Standards.” 

The new law all but guarantees that Common Core will likely remain in place in most states.  Non-Common Core states (like Nebraska and Texas) will come under increased pressure to adopt Common Core.


  1. ESSA Means More Federal Control of Education


Shane Vander Hart of Truth in American Education wrote an excellent summary of ESSA on 2.23.16.  (Notice how many times he mentions federal control.)  Excerpts from this article:


          “Some claim that a bill recently passed by Congress, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), places a great deal more control in the hands of states, local communities, parents, and educators including cutting the federal strings of Common Core. That could not be further from the truth. The ESSA actually requires states to comply with College and Career Ready Standards, which are Common Core. The bill does not remove the federal government from the business of education, as it requires the federal education secretary to approve each state’s plans for education. In addition, state chief school officers continue to be held accountable for not reporting a 95% participation rate on student assessments. The ESSA also extends federal funding to states to review and improve their existing pre-K programs. We can fully expect, and have found, this extension of “assistance” to be laden with all the usual federal encroachments that accompany federal funding.”

          “Federal involvement in education is about control, not education. The partnership between the federal departments of Labor and Education to further the development of fully functioning statewide birth-to-adulthood databases on citizens, and commonality of standards and testing across the country is reshaping the nation. It will result, as intended, in only people whose education they can control getting jobs, getting into college, and getting into the military. It’s a tool of control, not a tool of education.”




The 2016 Presidential Election offers the only hope of reducing federal control over education and eliminating ESSA’s Common Core mandates.

No hope exists on the Democrat side.  If Hillary Clinton is elected President, expect much more federal intervention in education.  Do not forget that Hillary Clinton was an integral part of Marc Tucker’s National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) when it developed guidelines on reforming the national education system.  Because this early work in the 1980s became the foundation for the Common Core Standards, do not expect Hillary Clinton to reduce federal control over education.  Instead, Hillary Clinton will usher in even more federal control and spend increased sums of money on education.   


On the Republican side, many of the Presidential candidates supported the Common Core Standards until recently switching sides.  Presidential candidate Ted Cruz has always opposed Common Core and recognized its problems from the very beginning.  As President, Ted Cruz will dissolve the USDOE one piece at a time.  That will lead to eliminating the Common Core Standards Initiative and wiping out the federal control provisions in ESSA. 

The Ted Cruz website states in part:

          “We should repeal every word of Common Core. And, as President, I will direct the Secretary of Education to immediately end the federal government’s mandates that seek to force states to adopt this failed attempt at a universal curriculum.”

          “Even more broadly, we need to get the federal government out of education altogether. The Department of Education has the third largest discretionary budget in the federal government, and it provides 10 percent of funding for K-12 education. Yet, with that 10 percent share, it imposes significant requirements on states and schools, forcing them to submit to federal bureaucrats.” 



There is tremendous hope for Americans in many areas with the right President in office.  As President, Ted Cruz will drastically reduce federal control over education and return local control to the schools.  Because Ted Cruz is a strong Constitutionalist who thoroughly knows and respects the Constitution, he knows how to get the job done.  With Ted Cruz, there is hope for America!




The Total Education Finance amount for U.S. public schools is $597,930 million ($597.9 billion).  The overall U.S. federal contribution is $54,367 million ($54.4 billion). 


The overall federal contribution percentage is 9.1 %.  The federal government provides only 9.6 % of the education funding for Nebraska’s schools; and the federal government supplies 11.4 % of the education funding for the Texas schools.


Clearly federal education aid is a pittance!  By contributing only 9 % of the total education funding, the federal government exercises tremendous control over the states and the local school districts. 


The students and parents in every state are susceptible to intrusive data mining under the State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS).


Under the new ESSA law, non-Common Core states (like Nebraska and Texas) will be forced into Common Core.


The only hope of reining in federal control over education lies in electing the right person as President in 2016.  That Presidential candidate is Ted Cruz!


President Ted Cruz will abolish the Common Core Standards, eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, and obliterate the ineffective provisions in the ESSA law. 


Yes, there is hope for America!



Bio for Henry W. Burke


 Henry Burke is a Civil Engineer with a B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E.  He has been a Registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) for 37 years and has worked as a Civil Engineer in construction for over 40 years. 

Mr. Burke had a successful 27-year career with a large construction company. 

Henry Burke serves as a full-time volunteer to oversee various construction projects. He has written numerous articles on education, engineering, construction, politics, taxes, and the economy.

Henry W. Burke

E-mail:  hwburke@cox.net

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