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forrest mcdonald
Historian Forrest McDonald in 1999


Questions were asked at a recent conference of education ‘de-form’ activists (those researchers not receiving Bill Gates et al funding):

  • What percentage of your state’s total education revenue comes from federal sources?
  • Should the federal government have power over state agencies and local districts with such small contributions?

Richard Innes of The Bluegrass Institute was intrigued with this question and developed a table and ranked each state’s federal percentage contribution to that state’s total revenue.  From


As you can see, Kentucky isn’t the largest “wallower” in federal education dollars, but we do grab the cash – as a proportion of our total spending – at well above average rates. A bit over 12 percent of all of Kentucky’s education revenue in the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2013 period came from federal sources.

Of course, this federal money is far from “free.” In exchange for the dollars, Kentucky has been forced to agree to all sorts of federal demands. Some have been OK, others are terrible. But, all result in a dilution of state and local control of education without any really dramatic evidence that the feds know better than we do.

Furthermore, this is being driven by a relatively small total contribution from the federal government in comparison to a rather massive amount of state and local education dollars.  (MEW bolded)

Folks in other states are starting to ask if the federal money is really worth the hassle. Even though Kentucky gets a bit more than its fair share from the feds, maybe Kentuckians also need to start asking if the real benefits from the federal cash outweigh all the costs and liabilities that this money brings to our state. Should we allow the feds so much control when they only contribute a bit more than one in ten dollars that Kentucky spends on education?


You can find your state to determine the percentage the Federal Government contributes aka redistributes to states to implement the Federal mandates and policies the USDOEd has determined is best in the equity quest for education and outcomes.  The state who receives most of this redistribution is Mississippi at 15.96%; the state receiving the least is New Jersey at 4.15%.  Missouri receives 8.91% Federal funding for its budget.


innes tablet


More of Forrest McDonald’s 1999 commentary on the power of The Federal Government:


Historian Forrest McDonald, who died Jan. 19 at age 89, writing in a 1999 Commentary magazine symposium on the results of the 1998 midterm elections:

Still—to turn to the editors’ second question—there can hardly be room to doubt that the nation has undergone a grave decline in its moral standards. Relativism and permissiveness have won; “sensitivity” toward the behavior of others, no matter how despicable, has won; the notion that self-esteem is more important than achievement has won.

Many reasons for the decline can be adduced, not least among them being the intrusiveness into our lives of the corruption that pervades Washington. Earlier, the Grant and Harding administrations were corrupt, but the scandals had virtually no impact upon society; the federal government had nothing to do, for example, with the way parents raised their children. Now, by contrast, the government pokes its nose into everything, including standards of morality. To cite but one kind of instance, the Catholic church’s charities and the Salvation Army, which have been traditional carriers of religion and morality as well as of succor, now refrain from espousing religion and morality, lest they lose their government funding.


Richard Innes in his article shows states give up their sovereignty to the USDOEd for a relatively small amount of their operating budget.  He asks what do you think?  Forward his table to your state legislators and Education Committee and ask them what do they think and why do we take orders from the USDOEd?

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