Why every American should fear abolishing the Department of Education

Photo: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Written by Carol Benedict

On the same day as the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary occurred, KY Rep. Thomas Massie introduced a bill to the House of Representatives in Washington DC, which consisted of 1 sentence.

“The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

No provisions for the Department’s various responsibilities to be distributed to others, nothing. Just simply GONE.

Massie attempts to offer explanations of local schools and states as being the best qualified to determine the educational requirements of America’s children. In an ideal United States, this is an entirely reasonable notion.

But reality is never ideal. Left without any federal guidelines, in the past schools have not been able to demonstrate an ability to teach students across the nation in any form of standardized curriculum. A student in Minnesota or Washington state is given completely lessons, and thus grade completion standards, than a student in Florida or Mississippi, for example.

DeVos promotes a voucher system that allows students to bypass public schools and instead attend schools selected as chatter schools, This will then siphon the student’s portion of public education funds and transfers that to the charter school.

But charter schools are not required to teach special education classes or accommodate special needs students. Nor are they required to offer any accountability for student outcomes. They are allowed free reign to spend budgets as they wish. They are not participants of the federal school lunch programs, and they often offer curriculum based on a denominational or religious point of view

While it may seem all streamlined, there are a few important details slipping through the cracks.

After DeVos’ confirmation, Facebook exploded with comments from teachers. Among them, we noticed the following sentiments:

When you take money away from public schools and give it to charter and private schools, schools will be even more segregated. Very few poor parents can drive their kids to school each day, nor can they afford to pay the cost of private education not covered by a voucher, which will leave these children stuck in a public school with even less funding than before.

In addition, all schools that take federal money should have to show they are educating children, all children. If you take federal funds, not only should you be required to take every kid (those with mental, physical, and behavioral challenges), but you should be able to show you can successfully educate them. That’s what we require of public schools. Private and charter should be no different. Betsy DeVos disagrees.

Her lack of knowledge of federal disability laws and basic educational concepts is also appalling. Her appointment sadly proves that party lines are more important than children. Every American should fear this.

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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