Hot on the heels of the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie (R) is launching his own plans to reform the U.S. education system, and it involves getting rid of the federal Department of Education entirely.
On Tuesday afternoon, Massie introduced H.R. 899, a bill to abolish the Department of Education as a whole by Dec. 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 in a Facebook post.
“Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development,” he added. “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.”
Co-sponsors of H.R. 899 include Republican Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Raúl R. Labrador (Idaho).
Massie ends by quoting Ronald Reagan, who also was a proponent of ending the Department of Education along with the Department of Energy.
The Department of Education began operating in 1980. 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.”
While Reagan never got around to actually to killing off the Education Department, conservatives have waged wars against the government entity for some time. Massie’s colleague, Senator Rand Paul, vowed during his 2016 election campaign that he would eliminate the department as well. In fact, most Republicans do, and have been at war with the Department of Education for some time, viewing it as another piece of big government creating rules and regulations such as common core, when it should be left to the states.
When asked by a commenter if the bill has a chance to actually come to fruition and the department closed, Massie responded in a Facebook comment: “I thinks [sic] there’s a good chance Trump would sign it if it did pass.”