WASHINGTON, D.C. – As members of the U.S. Senate voted to confirm school choice advocate Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, a congressman from Kentucky introduced legislation to abolish the Department of Education.
Rep. Thomas Massie introduced HR 899 Tuesday and it’s about as straightforward as it gets.
The bill, in its entirety, reads: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”
“Neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn,” Massie posted to Facebook.
“Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students,” he wrote. “Schools should be accountable. Parents have the right to choose the most appropriate educational opportunity for their children, including home school, public school, or private school.”
Legal Insurrection’s Mary Chastain pointed out that the Department of Education was established by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 as a debt of gratitude for the National Education Association’s endorsement that helped propel him to the presidency.
President Ronald Regan then attempted unsuccessfully to do away with department the following year.
Massie cited Regan’s Address to the Nation that year, which laid out the case for eliminating the DOE.
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“There’s only one way to shrink the size and cost of big government, and that is by eliminating agencies that are not needed and getting in the way of a solution,” Regan said. “Education is the principal responsibility of local school systems, teachers, parents, citizen boards, and state governments. By eliminating the Department of Education less than 2 years after it was created, we cannot only reduce the budget but ensure that local needs and preferences, rather than the wishes of Washington, determine the education of our children.”
North Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, a co-sponsor of Massie’s bill, echoed the same perspective.
“For years, I have advocated returning education policy to where it belongs – the state and local level,” he said in a statement. “D.C. bureaucrats cannot begin to understand the needs of schools and its students on an individual basis. It is time that we get the feds out of the classroom, and terminate the Department of Education.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education website, the FY 2017 budget includes $69.4 billion in discretionary funding, which is $1.3 billion more than the year prior.
Other Congressmen who co-sponsored Massie’s bill include Michigan’s Justin Amash, Rep. Andy Biggs, of Arizona, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, of Utah, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, Jody Hice, of Georgia, North Carolina’s Walter Jones, and Rep. Raul Labrador, of Idaho.
“Education of our students should lie primarily with parents, teachers, and state and local officials who know how to meet their individual needs best,” Biggs said. “Since its inception, the Department of Education has grown into an unrecognizable federal beast, and its policies have helped foster Common Core across the country. It is time the one-size-fits-all approach by the federal government is ended and authority is returned to the local level.”
The Department of Education, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, is among federal departments President Donald Trump has repeatedly said the country would be better off without.