Do you remember the Republican presidential debate in which Governor Rick Perry had an embarrassing moment of forgetfulness when asked to name three federal government departments he would eliminate? Perry supporters were horrified. Even his opponents on the stage were embarrassed for him. Liberal members of the media, on the other hand, could hardly contain their glee as they replayed the embarrassing moment ad nauseam.
I saw the situation differently. I liked Governor Perry and thought he was a better candidate than his debate performances had shown. His response did not bother me. Momentary memory lapses are common enough, especially for people over the age of 50. What did bother me was that the governor had missed a golden opportunity to make an important point by turning the question around on his liberal inquisitor. The response I wanted to hear Perry give was: Just three? I can’t name three government departments I would keep. This response would have made the critical point that the federal budget will not be brought under control until the beltway bureaucracy is brought under control.
Given the chance to eliminate government departments, a good place to start would be the U.S. Department of Education. Why the Department of Education? Three reasons: 1) It is unconstitutional, 2) It contributes nothing to the betterment of education at the local level, and 3) It pushes a political agenda that is at odds with a substantial segment of the American population.
As to the constitutionality of the Department of Education, Article 1, Section 8 does not even mention education as an enumerated power. Consequently, a liberal Supreme Court had to stretch the commerce clause way out of shape to use it as the rationale for justifying the U.S. Department of Education. Misapplication of the commerce clause has been a favorite strategy of liberal Supreme Court justices for a long time.
According to Charles Murray, author of the book, Real Education, “American education had been improving since World War II. Then, when the federal government began to get involved, it got worse…The overall data on the performance of American K-12 students give no reason to think that federal involvement, which took the form of the Department of Education after 1979, has been an engine of improvement…the long, intrusive, expensive role of the federal government in K-12 education does not have any credible evidence for a positive effect on American education.” If the U.S. Department of Education does not make a substantial positive difference in student performance—and it doesn’t—why continue to waste millions of taxpayer dollars every year funding it?
Perhaps the worst aspect of the Department of Education is that it has become a giant propaganda machine funded by taxpayer dollars to advance an agenda that runs counter to the values of many Americans. The Department of Education is a huge entrenched bureaucracy controlled by the left. It uses the power of the purse to indoctrinate administrators, teachers, and students in ways that encourage homosexuality, revisionist history, multiculturalism, and socialism. In the process, its programs emphasize self-esteem over self-discipline, victimhood over personal responsibility, compliance over individual liberty, and entitlement mentality over the work ethic. Even Ronald Reagan failed to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education when he could and should have. Let’s hope the next president won’t make the same mistake.