Federal overreach in education is under attack from multiple quarters and will likely be diminished in any overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act, the current law governing national education policy. As a result, the powerful influence of nationally funded assessments and the Common Core State Standards may be reduced. However, the devolution of decision-making power to local or state levels will not ensure inclusively developed, thoughtfully crafted, age-appropriate or properly-specified standards for student learning. It will not ensure a shift away from over-testing or misuse of assessment data. It will not ensure a reasonable level of teacher professional autonomy.
A shift in who wields power and in what location does not necessarily mean better policies. It is more likely that a shift away from federal authority in education will increase the influence those with power and money, rather than enhancing democratic participation of average citizens. Recent indicators of this trend include the emergence of large contributions from external donors to candidates in local school board elections, the increasing influence of private philanthropy on policy decisions and shifts in authority from taxpayer elected school boards to private charter school boards that do not answer to the public.