Roza: DeVos proposed $50 million for districts to decentralize federal money, to put schools in the driver’s seat. It’s a smart idea.
A provision that could bring more autonomy to schools in how they serve their most vulnerable students has been largely overlooked — $50 million in incentive grants for districts to decentralize their federal dollars to schools. At issue is whether school leaders and staff can have a say in how federal resources are used in their buildings for their students. Under the status quo, the heavy red tape attached to federal dollars presumes a top-down approach to spending decisions in which district leaders make all the programming and staffing decisions for schools. This process virtually erases school leaders from playing a role in decisions on how best to use the federal money in their buildings. The budget proposed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would reverse that through a pilot program for up to 10 decentralized districts that would send federal dollars directly to schools, putting principals and teachers in the driver’s seat on how to spend those dollars.