On September 1, the Center for American Progress (CAP), a group of self-proclaimed “progressives,” declared in a headline on its website, “Trump’s Plan to Eliminate the Department of Education is Yet Another in a List of Terrible Ideas.”
In addition to being an example of “terrible” headline writing, CAP’s proclamation is just one of many horrific and long-standing progressive mantras that have been used and reused for decades.
“Donald Trump is again proposing to eliminate or drastically cut the U.S. Department of Education,” the article’s author wrote. Doing so “could mean that more than 8 million low-income students … would lose millions of dollars for college.”
Will Ragland, campaign director at CAP’s action fund, said, “A Trump presidency would devastate state and district education budgets and exacerbate inequities between the working class and the wealthy elite.”
The article goes on to claim, “Trump’s proposal also means that over 490,000 teacher positions could be eliminated—14 percent of K-12 public school teachers nationwide. This would have a terrible effect on the U.S. economy. The loss of that many jobs would be like UPS—one of the country’s largest employers, with over 350,000 American workers—going out of business.”
It’s interesting CAP uses UPS, a privately owned and operated company, as a parallel in its dire public-teacher layoff scenario. If UPS goes out of business, would packages stop getting mailed across the world? Would all logistics operations stop on the spot? My bet is FedEx, DHL, and others would step up and fill the void. The “terrible” part would be the possibility of having to rely more on the U.S. Postal Service, a government-run agency that lost $5.1 billion in 2015 alone.
If the DOE teaching positions were eliminated, would those 490,000 public school teachers abruptly not know how to teach anymore, or would the children they were employed to teach suddenly disappear? CAP portrays the U.S. education system as all but disappearing in the absence of the federal government’s oversight, so how is it that our great-grandparents and generations that came before DOE’s massive expansion in the 1960s managed to become educated? And, by the way, weren’t American students better-educated relative to the rest of the world back then?
Kind of makes you wonder: What does DOE do, anyway?
The agency’s first duty, according to its website, is to “[establish] policies relating to federal financial aid for education, administer distribution of those funds and monitor their use.”
Student loan debt in the United States is now at historic highs, currently listed at $1.3 trillion, and there’s no end in sight.NBC News declared earlier in 2016 the “tangled financial aid process” has deepened the “college affordability crisis.”People are taking on debt that burdens them well into old age, and college graduates still aren’t finding meaningful jobs.
Time.com similarly reported,“Student loan debt is increasing because government grants and support for postsecondary education have failed to keep pace with increases in college costs. Since family income has been flat since 2000, students must either borrow more to pay for college or enroll in lower-cost colleges. That shift in enrollment, from private colleges to public colleges and from four-year colleges to two-year ones, has also been responsible for a decline in bachelor’s degree attainment among low- and moderate-income students.”
It doesn’t sound as though DOE is doing a very good job at fulfilling one of its primary duties, does it?
The agency names three other main responsibilities: “collecting data and overseeing research on American schools, identifying the major issues and problems in education and focusing national attention on them, and enforcing federal statutes prohibiting discrimination.”
How well has DOE done at accomplishing these goals?
DOE has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to support the increasingly unpopular Common Core State Standards,which data show are not preparing students for a career or college. Our children are not leaving public schools prepared to compete against other countries, either. In a 2013 piece analyzing “American Schools vs. the World,” The Atlantic labeled U.S. schools as “expensive, unequal, and bad at math.”
Does anyone, other than teachers unions, really think a gigantic nationalized agency is qualified to mandate education across our diverse nation? Parents certainly don’t think so. Thousands of students across the country are stuck on school choice waiting lists, hoping—in some cases, desperately—to be able to attend a school other than the closest government-operated school. And by the way, these programs, which have been much maligned by many government-school advocates and teachers unions, benefit poor and minority students the most and often save school districts money. More and more parents, including black families, are also homeschooling their children every year.
Getting rid of DOE is not a crazy, right-wing conspiracy. FreedomWorks’ Julie Borowski points out, “Eliminating the Department of Education used to be a standard Republican talking point. In 1980, Ronald Reagan ran on abolishing the federal department soon after Jimmy Carter created it. The 1996 GOP platform read, ‘he Federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the market place.’”
DOE is a wretched and intrusive experiment that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars since it was created and has failed to accomplish most of its primary goals. DOE has not proven its value. It’s time to cut funding for this unconstitutional, worthless agency and return control of education to state and local governments and, most importantly, to parents.