Lon Hosford's Blog
May 26, 2010
How can Congress both improve American education and reduce the Federal budget? Eliminate the Federal Department of Education.
In 1976 President Jimmy Carter signed the Federal Department of Education into law consolidating legislation back to Lyndon Johnson’s 1965 Title I. It passed Congress by a narrow vote. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers lobbied Congress heavily for the legislation. Carter’s promise to create the Department made him the first candidate ever endorsed by the NEA.
Congress stopped President Ronald Reagan’s attempt to close the Department of Education in 1982. Alarmist reports about American education’s risk of poor results thwarted his attempt. Has the Department of Education mitigated those risks in 30 years?
The Department of Education’s main function is redistributing tax money to K-12 schools and to higher education. Every President since Reagan has expanded this function. In 2009 the Department will spend $667 for every household for a total of $78 billion.
What does it do with the money? It pays 4,100 Federal worker’s salaries plus the cost of their offices. They enforce 2,050 pages of regulations to distribute what is left over.
Has K-12 school performance improved? Although we have increased Federal subsidies every year since 1965, math and reading scores are flat lined. The National Assessment of Educational Progress scores for students near high school graduation reveal a negligible increase in math and imperceptible increase in reading.
Why is college tuition so high? Federal subsidies to higher education have artificially inflated tuition costs and created an oversupply of students not serious about attending college. We have a 56 percent graduation rate for four year colleges and billions of dollars in student loan defaults. That is an F grade.
There are many dubious educational earmarks. These appear to provide elected officials ribbon cutting opportunities for campaign reelection press coverage. Consider the $1,915,934 City University of New York Charlie Rangel Center for Public Service.
Other questionable educational earmarks include sports and leisure programs. College students spend more hours each day for these functions than hours on their education.
What happens when we abolish the Federal Department of Education? K-12 autonomy is returned to states, local communities and parents where they can innovate and improve performance. Great ideas like school choice can flourish. Restrictive Federal administrative overhead ends.
Colleges will have to drop bloated tuition costs to compete for a smaller pool of serious students. The cheaper tuition is then paid by more efficient funding sources such as personal savings, banks and charitable organizations.
The Federal budget deficit is decreased by $78 billion and we can apply it to reducing the national debt. Earmarks and the concomitant corruption are gone.
The Federal Department of Education is an expensive monopolistic middleman providing no benefit to education. Instead it is fraught with fraud, bloats education costs and adds layers of overhead. It creates unconstitutional regulations, failed results and perpetuates its own existence through failure. It is time to abolish the Federal Department of Education.
Originally Published on April 9, 2004
Our Founding Fathers would not recognize this country as the one they founded. The Federal government is out of control, literally; it no longer answers to the States or the People. A powerful Federal government was a primary fear of the Founding Fathers, and the American Constitution was written to specifically limit the authority of the Federal government over the States and the People. The Founding Fathers KNEW that a powerful Federal government would be contrary to the vision of freedom and individual rights they had for America. Of course, they had little difficulty in convincing the colonial populace of the threat to individuals posed by an out of control government. Not so today.
Americans take freedom for granted and are blind to the basic principles and responsibilities of being free. We have already given up a large portion of the freedoms the Founding Fathers secured for us, and we continue to give up more on a daily basis. We have gone from punishing those who violate their responsibilities in a free society to imposing necessity and constraint upon everyone in a ludicrous attempt to "ensure" security for all.
We trade away our personal responsibilities and freedoms for false security without a moment's hesitation. We are stupefied by fear of our neighbors and any possibility they may be doing something we don't understand or may not agree with. We all want to be free but don't want our neighbors to be so. We recoil in shock and disgust at terrorist activity on our soil, as we should, but then allow the Federal government to take away more rights and freedoms without blinking an eye.
The loss of rights and freedoms should generate within the People a greater amount of shock and disgust than any terrorist attack. Alas, it does not, and America happily gives up the ideals and principles which set us aside from every other nation on Earth ...
Our security infrastructure is concerned only with security; with enforcing and imposing necessity and constraint upon choice and action. And we willingly let them do it. In fact, as a democracy, we impose it upon ourselves because we have come to believe that security is more desireable than freedom.
More and more regulations, fewer and fewer freedoms. When does it stop? When are there too many regulations and we are no longer free? Is there a number? Is there a limit? Should the government have the power to even regulate individual actions at all? To what extent? If you cannot answer these questions, we are already lost. If you do not understand how and why the Constitution was written as it was, there is little hope left and we have become, as Ben Franklin described, deserving of neither freedom nor security.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin FranklinThe following is the full list of Departments in the Federal Register, many which exist to regulate and restrict the liberties, freedoms and rights of the States and the People.
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
Agency for International Development
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
Arctic Research Commission
Broadcasting Board of Governors
Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
Commission of Fine Arts
Commission on Civil Rights
Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled
Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Corporation for National and Community Service
Council on Environmental Quality
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
Delaware River Basin Commission
Department of Agriculture
Department of Commerce
Department of Defense
Department of Education
Department of Energy
Department of Energy National Laboratories
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of the Interior
Department of Justice
Department of Labor
Department of State
Department of Peace
Department of the Treasury
Department of Transportation
Department of War
Department of Veterans Affairs
Election Assistance Commission
Environmental Protection Agency
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Executive Office of the President
Farm Credit Administration
Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Federal Election Commission
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Federal Housing Authority
Federal Housing Finance Agency
Federal Housing Finance Board
Federal Labor Relations Authority
Federal Maritime Commission
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
Federal Reserve System [Listed in the Register Even Though It is a Private Corporation]
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board
Federal Trade Commission
Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission
Foreign Claims Settlement Commission
General Services Administration
Government Accountability Office
Inter-American Foundation Board Meeting
Internal Revenue Service
International Trade Commission
Judicial Conference of the United States
Legal Services Corporation
Library of Congress
Marine Mammal Commission
Merit Systems Protection Board
Millennium Challenge Corporation
Mississippi River Commission
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Archives and Records Administration
National Council on Disability
National Credit Union Administration
National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Council
National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities
National Indian Gaming Commission
National Labor Relations Board
National Mediation Board
National Science Foundation
National Transportation Safety Board
Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Office of Government Ethics
Office of Management and Budget
Office of National Drug Control Policy
Office of Personnel Management
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Office of Special Counsel
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Office of the United States Trade Representative
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
Pacific Northwest Electric Power and Conservation Planning Council
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Postal Regulatory Commission
Railroad Retirement Board
Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board
Securities and Exchange Commission
Small Business Administration
Social Security Administration
Susquehanna River Basin Commission
Tennessee Valley Authority
The Broadcasting Board of Governors
U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
United States Institute of Peace
United States International Trade Commission
United States Sentencing Commission
Well, as the old saying goes, "Careful what you wish for, you just might get it." You want more security? Go ahead, ask for it. Give up more rights and freedoms. Give away your responsibilities to a free society; give away the free society itself. It's almost gone now: Congress didn't ask if the Homeland Security Act was okay with America; they simply imposed it upon us.
The Government is so out of control that they see little reason to ask The People what they actually want. Let them go on. You may get a little more security, but you'll never be completely secure. And you won't be free, either. It's a trade-off, as Ben Franklin pointed out. It's absolutely disgusting to me because history is so full of stories about courageous people willing to die, to give up all security, to live free. And we are simply giving freedom away.