Another entry in the category of “You can’t make this stuff up”. Wake School Board member John Tedesco thinks that abolition of the US Department of Education “would be great”. That’s what he said on Facebook Friday in response to a proposal to “shut down & eliminate the Fed Dept of Educ”. The absurdity of this suggestion is evident in a report of Rand Paul’s articulation of the same proposal in Kentucky.
Programs on the chopping block would include Title I, which distributes funds to schools and districts with high numbers of low-income students; Pell Grants for low-income college students; and Head Start, an early childhood education program for lower-income children.
Dismantling the Department of Education also would be a herculean and politically unpopular task, said Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.
Since 1979 when Jimmy Carter signed the law creating the US Department of Education, conservatives, starting with Ronald Reagan, have been bent on abolishing the cabinet agency. For years abolition of the department was part of the Republican Party platform. President George H W Bush declined to implement this plank in his party’s platform. His son George W Bush, with the bipartisan collaboration of John Boehner and Ted Kennedy, actually expanded the role and size of the US Department of Education with the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
Nationally candidates like Rand Paul and Sharron Angle took flak for calling for abolition of the US Department of Education yet NC Republicans Sue Myrick, Walter Jones, Howard Coble, and Richard Burr are known to support abolition of the Department. Among Republican candidates in NC in the 2010 election Ashley Woolard, Bill Randall, and BJ Lawson all supported abolition of the agency. Mike Beitler, Libertarian candidate for US Senate, also supported abolition of the agency. All this despite little public appetite for elimination of the Department of Education.
“It’s not realistic. If there is any official in Obama’s cabinet who has gotten more praise from The Wall Street Journal and conservative corners it is the secretary of education,” Hess said of Arne Duncan. “Republicans have spoken relatively kindly about what’s being done with education.”
The burdens of compliance with federal law would not evaporate with elimination of the US Department of Education. If anything the agency helps facilitates compliance with federal law and provides associated funds. Eschewing federal funding might release the yoke of compliance with some federal law. Much of that funding targets low achievement and low income students and is sorely needed. Yet, John Tedesco thinks that abolition of the US Department of Education “would be great”.