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IPFS News Link • Education: Government Schools

Abolish the Department of Education

•, By Laurence M. Vance

The current cabinet-level federal Department of Education began operation in 1980. It was cobbled together from elements of the Departments of Health, Education, and Welfare; Defense; Justice; Housing and Urban Development; Agriculture; and some other federal agencies.

Ronald Reagan proposed abolishing the department while campaigning for president in 1980. He even ridiculed President Carter's creation of the department: "At 11:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, President Jimmy Carter's new bureaucratic boondoggle was born: the Department of Education."

After he became president, Reagan tried to eliminate Education Department, and said: "Education is the principal responsibility of local school systems, teachers, parents, citizen boards, and State governments. By eliminating the Department of Education less than 2 years after it was created, we cannot only reduce the budget but ensure that local needs and preferences, rather than the wishes of Washington, determine the education of our children."

But then, in 1985, Reagan wrote to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, that he had "no intention of recommending the abolition of the department to the Congress at this time." This was after he realized that there was little congressional support for doing so. Said Reagan: "As you know, I have previously recommended the abolition of the Department of Education. This was because I believed that federal educational programs could be administered effectively without a Cabinet-level agency. While I still feel that this is the best approach, that proposal has received very little support in the Congress."