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Kentucky Congressman Pens Bill To Scrap U.S. Department Of Education

Anne Meadows, Creative Commons

  U.S. Representative Thomas Massie, whose district includes Northern and Northeastern Kentucky, has introduced a one-sentence resolution to abolish the Department of Education.

“The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018,” is the extent of Massie’s bill.

The proposal came the same day as the confirmation of President Trump’s outsider pick for secretary of the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, a charter school and voucher advocate with little experience dealing with traditional public schools.

In an emailed statement about the bill, Massie said that “neither Congress nor the President should have constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn.”

“States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students,” Massie said. “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 proposal is one of many Republican calls to scrap the agency since its inception in 1979. President Trump hinted at it in his book Crippled America:

“If we don’t eliminate it completely, we certainly need to cut its power and reach,” Trump wrote.

Former Texas Governor and Trump’s nominee to head up the Department of Energy, Rick Perry, and former presidential nominee and Kansas Sen. Bob Dole have both called for eliminating the department.

In 2014, Sen. Rand Paul called for sending education dollars to state and local governments, saying “I don’t think you’d notice if the whole department was gone tomorrow.”

Established in 1980, the department distributes grants, collects data on student performance and oversees programs to prevent discrimination in public schools across the country. It’s also the largest provider of student loans in the country.

The agency has 4,400 cabinet-level employees and an $87 billion budget.

In 2015, Kentucky received about $488 million in grants from the Department of Education. The money went to a wide range of programs from local educational agencies, to community centers to adult education centers.

The Department of Education also distributed about $375 million in federal Pell grants to Kentucky college-goers in 2015.

Education Secretary DeVos was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon after Vice President Mike Pence cast a vote in her favor to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell applauded her installment, saying she “…understands that teachers, students, parents, school boards, and state and local governments — not Washington bureaucrats — are best suited to make education decisions for our kids.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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