Confused about the federal role in education? A simple analogy will help.

This new Heritage video tells the story of Steve, the president of the local homeowners’ association. Steve decides to centralize the yard care decisions for the entire neighborhood to achieve uniformity. Unfortunately, not all lawns are the same.

Soon, the landscaping companies are answering directly to Steve, not the homeowners. Any plan Steve devises becomes the rule, and homeowners are forced to try to keep up with endless new regulations.

Sound familiar? America’s public school system is facing the same problem of over-regulation from the federal government. Washington’s top-down education rules take decision-making power away from those who know the most about their schools’ needs: states, local leaders, and parents.

Today, there are more than 151 federal education programs across multiple agencies controlling everything from teacher qualifications to cafeteria food.

Just like Steve’s neighborhood, our public schools are suffering from rising costs, red tape, and lots of ill-advised programs. Every school has different needs, and one-size-fits-all education determined by a centralized bureaucracy does more harm than good.

It’s time to reduce the federal role in education. How will the story end?

Rebekah Sherman is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: