The recent confirmation of Betsy DeVos must have given one legislator a burst of inspiration, as we have discovered the introduction of a bill that will effectively abolish the Federal Department of Education. Representative Thomas Massie introduced H.R 899 which states that “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”
The representative’s reasoning for proposed the abolishment of the Department of Education is based on what he describes as overreach by the federal government. He believes that the large bureaucratic agency, which was created in 1980, is not equipped to serve the needs of schools or students on an individual basis.
He stated, “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.”
The American public school system is notorious for its almost inexplicable inability to provide a good education to the public at large. Recent studies, like the Program of International Student Assessment, placed American students below average in math and only average in science and reading when compared to international rankings.
For a country that is considered the premier economic engine of growth for the world, it is puzzling that the American public school system has been so lacklustre. Critics argue that the reason for the mediocre performance of American schools is based on its antiquated approaches to education. Some critics have gone so far as to argue that a voucher system, that permits school choice, would be better option for parents. Of course, proponents of the public-school system will argue that this is just another example of private interest seeking to undermine public institutions.
Representative Massie is adamant in declaring that the Department of Education is not constitutional. According to the representative, “Neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn.”
Libertarians will undoubtedly be on the side of dismantling the Department of Education for reasons cited by Representative Massie, as well as others. For instance, the idea that any organization can provide guidelines for 3 million teachers is obviously going to be fraught with unnecessary organizational bottle necks. The argument toward localizing education is put forth in an effort to manage education through greater control on the level where it is far more consequential.
Attempts to create one-size-fits-all models have been met with controversy. This is the very reason why central planning has always failed. The ability to have the foresight to determine the needs of millions in real time is simply not possible.
Thus, it is the position of this libertarian that this bill is a step in the right direction. The decreasing of governmental power and increasing of individual power is always a step in the right direction.
Gary St. Fleur
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