Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Do We Need the Department of Education?

A scholar named Charles Murray at the American Enterprise Institute recently made an important speech that I'd like to share with you. He asked the question: Do we need the Department of Education? He then examined three basic reasons that might justify having a federal Department of Education. The first is: Is it constitutional? At the time the Constitution was written, education was not considered a government function, not even for the states. When the Constitution enumerates the matters over which Congress has power to legislate, that list does not include education. The conclusion is that the Department of Education is not constitutionally legitimate. Americans need to be reminded that the Department of Education was created by President Jimmy Carter; we never had one before his Administration.

Secondly, Charles Murray asks, Are there serious problems in education that can be solved only at the federal level? The obvious answer is No. There were a couple of national problems that were dealt with years ago, but there's no justification for the large-scale involvement of the federal government in education. There's no reason to think that federal bureaucrats are better able to write or choose public school curriculum than local school boards and parents.

The third argument that Charles Murray raises is, What is the federal government's track record in education? Has it improved public education? Mr. Murray tracked the test scores and discovered that when the federal government began handing out money, education got worse. Year after year, the test scores of U.S. kids were lower than other countries. There was no positive accomplishment, no improvement of education outcomes, either for regular students or for the disadvantaged, despite all the money that was poured into schools. Charles Murray concluded that the answer to the question, Do we need a Department of Education is a resounding No.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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