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Government, State and Local Government

diverse nation, various state laws, private money, decentralization, teacher certification

The American government is a federal one, which means that authority and jurisdiction are divided among national, state, and local governments. This division and decentralization causes the system to be often unwieldy, slow-moving, and redundant. However, the federal systemís value lies in the fact that in such a large and diverse nation, local governing bodies can represent this diversity. In 1997 the United States had 50 state, 3,043 county, 19,372 municipal, and 16,629 township governments.

Government in America is constructed in such a way that state laws may differ depending on local circumstanceóconsider the speed limits on local roads, which are often different from state to state. Smaller subdivisions are also flexible enough to respond to some unique situation or element of their population. For example, in heavily Amish areas of Pennsylvania, local school districts have allowed the Amish to establish their own elementary schools. Although these institutions are funded solely by private money, unlike other private schools they violate various state laws regarding such things as teacher certification, curriculum, and length of the school year.

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