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Do We Really Need The Department Of Education?

Posted by cann0nba11 on September 6, 2011

Michelle Bachmann is being labelled a crazy lady again, this time for having the audacity to suggest that we eliminate the Department of Education (DoE). The left can’t stand the idea, which means she’s exactly right. I included this hindrance of a program in an article earlier this year when it was just a $50B program. I’m thankful that Bachmann has brought the idea into the spotlight, allow me to state some facts that will surely cause liberal skulls to explode. Everyone does not have a right to a college degree. Every child does not need to graduate from college. The world needs plumbers, cabinet makers, assembly line workers, electricians, gardeners, truck drivers and cashiers just as much as it needs 2o-somethings with useless degrees.

When Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education, he said the following:

“…the Federal Government has for too long failed to play its own supporting role in education as effectively as it could. Instead of assisting school officials at the local level, it has too often added to their burden. Instead of setting a strong administrative model, the Federal structure has contributed to bureaucratic buck passing. Instead of simulating needed debate of educational issues, the Federal Government has confused its role of junior partner in American education with that of silent partner.”

For starters let’s list what the DoE says it does not do:

  • establish schools and colleges;
  • develop curricula;
  • set requirements for enrollment and graduation;
  • determine state education standards; or
  • develop or implement testing to measure whether states are meeting their education standards.

President Obama requested $69.9 billion for the DoE in 2012. That’s a lot of coin, so it is important to understand exactly what the DoE does. According to the DoE itself:

“The U.S. Department of Education is the agency of the federal government that establishes policy for, administers and coordinates most federal assistance to education. It assists the president in executing his education policies for the nation and in implementing laws enacted by Congress. The Department’s mission is to serve America’s students—to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.”

Let’s break that down:

  1. “establishes policy for, administers and coordinates most federal assistance to education.” In other words, it creates federal policies and spends tax payer dollars to help with state-owned responsibilities.
  2. “assists the president in executing his education policies for the nation and in implementing laws enacted by Congress” In other words, it supports the president with getting his message out.
  3. “promote student achievement” In other words, its a cheerleading organization.
  4. “fostering educational excellence” In other words, its a cheerleading organization.
  5. “ensuring equal access” In other words, it makes sure everyone is being treated fairly.

The DoE was originally made up of 15 different departments and had four main goals when it was created in 1979 (note: it now has about 4,200 employees and 29 different departments). Here are the original goals from 1979:

  • To establish policies relating to financial aid for education, to administer distribution for these funds, and to monitor their use.
  • To collect data and oversee research on America’s schools and disseminate this information to the public.
  • To identify major issues and problems in education and to focus atttention to these problems.
  • To enforce federal statutes prohibiting discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal funds and to ensure equal access to education.

Today the DoE lists its goals as follows:

  • Establishing policies on federal financial aid for education, and distributing as well as monitoring those funds.
  • Collecting data on America’s schools and disseminating research.
  • Focusing national attention on key educational issues.
  • Prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal access to education.

What in any of the lists above merits the spending of $69.9 billion dollars? What in the list above cannot be accomplished by the states themselves? This department exists to spend tax dollars, collect data, let people know that education is important and makes sure that everyone is treated fairly. Nearly $70 billion this year? I see no reason to spend this amount of money on what is nothing more than a duplication of state effort at a national scale. We can’t even call it central planning because there are no actual directives being sent down to the states. It’s just a massive marketing campaign.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the past 30 years of messaging have been valuable. Let’s look at standardized test scores to see if there has been an increase thanks to big government stepping in to help out.

  • 1980 Mean SAT scores: 502 reading, 492 math
  • 2010 Mean SAT scores: 501 reading, 516 math

So, in thirty years we have seen an increase in math scores of 5% and no increase in reading. How much have tax payers spent over the past 30 years for this outcome? A whopping $1.16 trillion, or about $37 billion per year. Putting this a different way, there are 64 million primary/secondary students in America. The government is spending $1,092 dollars per student (on top of what states are spending) for what exactly? In my opinion Michelle Bachmann is right. In my opinion this department needs to be eliminated and the 4200 employees currently at the DoE can find work elsewhere. Maybe ACORN is hiring?

Here’s a video that I think sums up the concept of big government in education. Feel free to share.


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