Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie along with House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (Utah) and Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Raúl Labrador (Idaho) have penned a bill that would abolish the Department of Education by December 31, 2018.
Calls to abolish the Department of Education aren't new; many have opposed its existence since its inception in 1979. Established at the time by Jimmy Carter, the very next president ran a campaign that was in-part successful because he promised to reverse Carter's decision and get rid of the department. Ronald Reagan was elected into office on such a campaign promise, but legislation to do so was unsuccessful and he eventually scrapped his efforts.
"I have no intention of recommending the abolition of the department to the Congress at this time," Reagan officially said in 1985, four years after he announced his intentions to do so.
Subsequent presidents have continued to bolster the national education agenda, causing federal education spending to reach unprecedented levels year after year. This increase in both agenda and spending has emboldened those who want to limit federal control in education and has resulted again in calls to abolish the Department of Education once and for all.
Current President Donald Trump is a believer that the Department should be, if not eliminated, severely cut back.
"'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,' he wrote in his book 'Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America,'" according to Business Insider.
Trump clearly decided not to go the route of pushing for elimination given the fact that he nominated Betsy DeVos to be in charge of managing the Department; while she believes that education decisions should be left largely to local leaders, she was nonetheless confirmed yesterday as Secretary of Education.
For opponents, education should be up to neither President Trump or Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, regardless of their support of local control.
"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 statement to Kentucky's WYMT.
Massie's bill is unlikely to get the support it needs to pass, but nonetheless it makes us consider yet again what the role of the Department of Education is and how much longer it will be responsible for that role.
Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor