Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) speaking at the 2013 Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Chantilly, Virginia. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) speaking at the 2013 Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Chantilly, Virginia.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) speaking at the 2013 Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Chantilly, Virginia. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) speaking at the 2013 Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Chantilly, VA.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

(Washington, DC) On the day Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the Secretary of Education by the U.S. Senate on a 51 to 50 vote with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote; Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced a bill abolishing the U.S. Department of Education.

He filed H.R. 899, a bill to abolish the federal Department of Education. The bill, which is one sentence long, states, “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 said.

“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. 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,” Massie added.

“For years, I have advocated returning education policy to where it belongs – the state and local level,” Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC), an original co-sponsor, said. “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.”

Original co-sponsors include Congressmen Justin Amash (R-MI), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Jody Hice (R-GA), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Raúl Labrador (R-ID).

The very first Department of Education was created in 1867, but was downgraded to an office one year later and was wrapped into the Department of the Interior, then the Federal Security Agency. In 1953 the Federal Security Agency became the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and was given cabinet level status. While there have been a handful of education laws that were primarily fiscal in nature; the first federal K-12 education policy law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, was not passed until 1965. The U.S. Department of Education as it exists today was founded until October 17, 1979 after President Jimmy Carter signed the Department of Education Organization Act which split the Department of Health, Education and Welfare into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. The department began operation on May 4, 1980.

There has been a growing federal creep into education ever since. Massie in his press release noted that President Ronald Reagan wanted to cut the department.

On September 24, 1981 in his Address to the Nation on the Program for Economic Recovery, President Ronald Reagan said:

As a third step, we propose to dismantle two Cabinet Departments, Energy and Education. Both Secretaries are wholly in accord with this. Some of the activities in both of these departments will, of course, be continued either independently or in other areas of government. 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 are getting in the way of a solution. Now, we don’t need an Energy Department to solve our basic energy problem. As long as we let the forces of the marketplace work without undue interference, the ingenuity of consumers, business, producers, and inventors will do that for us. Similarly, 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.

President Donald Trump, during the campaign, said to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday when asked what he might cut, “But I may cut Department of Education. I believe Common Core is a very bad thing. I believe that we should be — you know, educating our children from Iowa, from New Hampshire, from South Carolina, from California, from New York. I think that it should be local education.”

In his book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, written in 2015 Trump had even stronger language.

A lot of people believe the Department of Education should just be eliminated. Get rid of it. If we don’t eliminate it completely, we certainly need to cut its power and reach. Education has to be run locally. Common Core, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top are all programs that take decisions away from parents and local school boards. These programs allow the progressives in the Department of Education to indoctrinate, not educate, our kids. What they are doing does not fit the American model of governance.

I am totally against these programs and the Department of Education. It’s a disaster. We cannot continue to fail our children–the very future of this nation, (pg. 50-51).

President Trump’s commitment to cutting or even the reducing the U.S. Department of Education is uncertain with the current team he has assembled at the U.S. Department of Education. Even so the bill will likely receive strong resistance from not only Democrats, but moderate Republicans as well.

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