Jim's Blog

It's time to abolish the Department of Education

Posted by on August 21, 2014 | comments
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Students across the First District of Oklahoma are heading back to school. Teachers are eagerly waiting to meet their new classes. At a time of year when parents are looking to be sure their children are learning in the best environment possible, they should also be turning an eye of scrutiny to the U.S. Department of Education. It is time to consider eliminating the federal Department of Education.

 The federalization of education is unconstitutional. The Constitution grants certain enumerated powers to the federal government such as collecting taxes, maintaining a military and establishing Post Offices, but education is not mentioned. The Tenth Amendment clearly states "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. The belief in Washington, however, seems to be the inverse of this concept: anything not listed in the Constitution falls to the responsibility of federal bureaucrats."

It is important to note, power is intentionally reserved to the people by the Constitution. This is in the best interests of the students. When education is federalized, there are programs like Common Core. When education is under local control, there are high performing homeschool groups, faith based private schools, charter schools, and school choice, and parents are taking an active role. In short, when education is localized, students win.

The success of education should be rooted in free market economics. Allowing competition, demanding a better product, rewarding efficiencies and high performance are principles that work in the free market and will elevate education. Parents should be allowed to pick the school that best meets the needs of their child, not be forced to accept an educational experience that fails to adequately prepare their child for success. This is especially important for children with special needs.

Federal education is quite the opposite of anything resembling a free market. Common Core is an initiative bankrolled by special interests, namely, testing and technology companies that will directly profit from the program. This is the crony capitalism so often found at the core of big government initiatives. Furthermore, Common Core lowers the bar on academic achievement for students. There are no incentives to be above average and there are punishments for students who are either developmentally delayed or perform below average.  Education designed at the federal level is not tailored to the individual, which every parent understands should be the cornerstone of developmental learning.  Parents should make major decisions on educational policy across the nation, not federal bureaucrats.

The most important teachers children will ever have are their own parents. Multiple studies show that when a parent is involved in their childÍs school and education they perform better in school. The Harvard Family Project 2006 study showed that kindergarten children who have parents reading to them at home are able to recognize letters and perform better in kindergarten.[1] Local control promotes a culture of involvement, where parents are actively engaged in what is happening in the classroom.

While many propose that education in the United States would be better if only there was higher funding, historically, as budgets in the Department of Education increased, there was little to no change in testing scores according to decades-long data from the National Center for Educational Statistics.[2] This is not to decry the hard work being done by teachers across the nation; it is simply a symptom in the big picture of government bureaucracy.

Abolishing the U.S. Department of Education would return power to the states where it belongs. This would promote accountability in spending and put parents back in the picture. Like any other government program, local control creates truly higher standards because of the investment parents and teachers have in making sure students succeed.

I am not an advocate for eliminating public education; I am an advocate for eliminating a top heavy, inefficient Washington-based bureaucracy that is burdening the taxpayer. Education is power, and the children of America deserve better than a federalized education. ItÍs time to eliminate the Department of Education.


[1] http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/family-involvement-makes-a-difference-in-school-success#_ftn3

[2] http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/main1999/2000469.asp

Tags: Education
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