Bachmann: Who Needs a Department of Education, Anyway?

Posted: Sep 06, 2011 5:42 PM

This is not to be confused with an endorsement of Rep. Michele Bachmann for president, but I must say, I am quite pleased with a few of the ideas that she is vocalizing in this presidential race. Case in point:

GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) said Monday that she would support terminating several government agencies, including the Department of Education, because she believes they are unconstitutional.

"Because the Constitution does not specifically enumerate, nor does it give to the federal government the role and duty to superintend over education that historically has been held by the parents and by local communities and by state governments," the Minnesota congresswoman said at forum hosted by fellow Tea Party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

The U.S. Constitution does not mention education, and for good reasons that modern evidence has only served to reinforce. Federal top-down control of education has resulted in waste, abuse, mind-boggling bureaucratic troubles, and terrible one-size-fits-all non-solutions. Taking money from individual taxpayers, circulating it through the federal government, and then sending it back to schools is a great idea, if your goal is to whittle down the power and effectiveness of every dollar paid into the system.

Federalism is one of our nation's greatest assets, and we need to stop smothering it and allow the many virtues of competition to flourish. States and localities can compete for residents just like businesses can compete for customers, and healthy competition encourages the best possible product. Smaller managing entities can quickly demonstrate what works and what does not work, instead of an unadroit, politicized, federal conglomerate. For anyone who actually cares about the educational wellbeing of our children and our national future, the Department of Education in practice makes very little sense.

So, huge props to Bachmann for her willingness to stare down all the cries of "Tea Party extremism! Right-wing fringe! Just plain crazy!" that will inevitably come her way for this. The accepted wisdom of a federal education department has been on automatic pilot for far too long, and it will take brash conservatism to challenge that wisdom and inch the national conversation ever-closer to sanity, solvency, and prosperity.