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Abolish the Federal Department Of Education

June 5, 2010

How can Congress both improve American education and reduce the Federal budget? Eliminate the Federal Department of Education.


In 1976 President Jimmy Carter signed the Federal Department of Education into law consolidating legislation back to Lyndon Johnson’s 1965 Title I. It passed Congress by a narrow vote. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers lobbied Congress heavily for the legislation. Carter’s promise to create the Department made him the first candidate ever endorsed by the NEA.
Congress stopped President Ronald Reagan’s attempt to close the Department of Education in 1982. Alarmist reports about American education’s risk of poor results thwarted his attempt. Has the Department of Education mitigated those risks in 30 years?

The Department of Education’s main function is redistributing tax money to K-12 schools and to higher education. Every President since Reagan has expanded this function. In 2009 the Department will spend $667 for every household for a total of $78 billion.

What does it do with the money? It pays 4,100 Federal worker’s salaries plus the cost of their offices. They enforce 2,050 pages of regulations to distribute what is left over.


Has K-12 school performance improved? Although we have increased Federal subsidies every year since 1965, math and reading scores are flat lined. The National Assessment of Educational Progress scores for students near high school graduation reveal a negligible increase in math and imperceptible increase in reading.

Why is college tuition so high? Federal subsidies to higher education have artificially inflated tuition costs and created an oversupply of students not serious about attending college. We have a 56 percent graduation rate for four year colleges and billions of dollars in student loan defaults. That is an F grade.

What happens when we abolish the Federal Department of Education? K-12 autonomy is returned to states, local communities and parents where they can innovate and improve performance. Great ideas like school choice can flourish. Restrictive Federal administrative overhead ends.

Colleges will have to drop bloated tuition costs to compete for a smaller pool of serious students. The cheaper tuition is then paid by more efficient funding sources such as personal savings, banks and charitable organizations.

The Federal budget deficit is decreased by $78 billion and we can apply it to reducing the national debt. Earmarks and the concomitant corruption are gone.

The Federal Department of Education is an expensive monopolistic middleman providing no benefit to education. Instead it is fraught with fraud, bloats education costs and adds layers of overhead. It creates unconstitutional regulations, failed results and perpetuates its own existence through failure.

It is time to abolish the Federal Department of Education.

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