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State leaders discuss government’s role in public schools

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SALT LAKE CITY — A debate among state leaders about education is starting to ramp up.

At the core of the conversation is the federal government’s role in public schools.

Some, such as Representative Rob Bishop, are arguing for total de-federalization and allowing the schools to operate on their own.

For him, federal involvement forces every student to be lumped together under the same policies.

“The issue is that you recognize the kids are there and they’re going to be different,” he explains. “And not every kid can be taught the same way.”

Representative Bishop comes from an education background and taught for over two decades.

He says federal involvement in-state public schools is hypocritical since it takes control away from families and teachers.

“We talked about empowering teachers, but we really don’t do anything to empower them,” says Bishop. “And we talked about empowering parents and we really don’t do anything about it.”

Not everyone agrees, though.

On the other end of the spectrum are those that support federal involvement and claim it provides a number of necessary resources.

For many, the worry is the removal of involvement would work against families and students that rely on various programs backed by federal dollars.

“It basically supports instruction and personnel for our most vulnerable students who are academically at risk,” says State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson.

Without federal backing, she says “at-risk” students would lose out on vital school resources.

“So it pays for things like breakfast and lunch and paraeducators [and] special education teachers,” she explains.