The Search For The Truth: Do We Need The Federal Department Of Education?

The US Department of Education grew into the bloated federal bureaucracy which it is today over a long period of time. Along the way both democrats and republicans have called for its elimination.  Their reasons varied, but one fact remains true, as even the Canadians know: there is no constitutional authority for its creation.

In 1979 when Jimmy Carter signed into law the bill creating the ED, Senator Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) said “This is a back-room deal, born out of squalid politics. Everything we had thought we would not see happening to education is happening here.”

In 1980 Ronald Reagan vowed to close the Department of Education. He has said about federal funding of education:

“Secretary [of Education William] Bennett makes, I think, an interesting analogy.  He says that if you serve a child a rotten hamburger in America, federal, state and local agencies will investigate you, summon you, close you down, whatever.  But if you provide a child with a rotten education, nothing happens, except that you’re likely to be given more money to do it with.”

The GOP platform included this language which reflected Ronald Reagan’s campaign promise to abolish the Deparment of Education, up through the 1996 election:

Our formula is as simple as it is sweeping: The federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the workplace. That is why we will abolish the Department of Education, end federal meddling in our schools, and promote family choice at all levels of learning.

So who is behind the criticism of Sharon Angle and Rand Paul and others who have given voice to the objections of the GOP, Ronald Reagan and even democrat Patrick Moynihan by calling for returning responsibility for educating our children back to the communities where they are raised, rather than dictating from Washington how or what our local schools shall teach?

Well surprise, surprise, surprise, it’s the teachers unions. Good teachers have highlighted how those unions have been bad for our children.

And this is not just a matter of opinion, it is a measurable fact.

Perhaps this is “just” math and science, something American schools have never been good at. Besides, apologists say, Asian students (who score at the top on the TIMSS) are inexplicable math and science geniuses.

Yet low performance is not limited to these more challenging subjects. Americans barely reach the international literacy average set by advanced democracies, according to a report issued by the Educational Testing Service after looking at the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS). Unlike the math and science surveys, the IALS was given to a cross section of adults aged 16 to 65. Despite the high expenditures on education in the United States—and the large numbers of students enrolled in colleges and universities—the United States ranked 12th on the test.

The United States is living on its past. Among the oldest group in the study (those aged 56–65), U.S. prose skills rose to second place. For those attending school in the 1950s, SAT scores reached an all-time high.

As the years go by, the United States slips down the list. Americans educated in the sixties captured a Bronze Medal in literacy, those schooled in the seventies got 5th place in the race. But those schooled in the nineties ranked 14th.

Have Americans sacrificed quality for equity? One could hope for such egalitarian bliss; unfortunately, the opposite is true. Among the 20 highest-income countries participating in the test, the United States wins the inequality Gold Medal. [Stanford University]

If we have a cabinet level department, which is not authorized by the Constitution, which spends billions of dollars on education, which is beholden to unions and has as its performance history the dismal record of failing our children, they why would any thinking voters allow him/herself to be influenced by the screeches coming out of the liberal media seeking to paint Sharon Angle, Rand Paul and others as “extremists”?

I suspect the only answer would be that the media would rather you not know the truth.

But now you do. Class dismissed.