Rep. Thomas Massie Reintroduces Bill to Abolish Education Department

Christian Buzzerd, a teacher at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School in Ellicott City, Mary
Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) reintroduced a bill Wednesday that would abolish the Department of Education.

Massie announced his plan to reintroduce his one-sentence bill to end the department in a Facebook post:

Today, I reintroduced my one-sentence bill to abolish the Department of Education. The bill states, "The Department of…

Posted by Congressman Thomas Massie on Wednesday, January 30, 2019

“The bill states, ‘The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2020,’” wrote the congressman. “Neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn.”

Massie continued:

Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students. 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.

Massie’s bill was reintroduced as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced an executive order eliminating the federally incentivized Common Core State Standards – which were rebranded as the Florida Standards – in his state:

In an interview with Breitbart News in February 2017 – following the introduction of his original bill to eliminate the Education Department – Massie said people should take his bill seriously “because, for the first time since Ronald Reagan, we have a president in the White House who would conceivably sign this bill.”

The original legislation was proposed at a time when Massie believed he could get both conservatives and liberals on board with it.

He explained at the time:

I’ve had the bill prepared since December of last year in anticipation of offering it this year. But, as we received more and more phone calls from people who wanted me to vote against Betsy DeVos – and I had to explain to them that it is the constitutional role of the Senate to advise and consent, not the House – they would then ask me to do anything I could to oppose her nomination. And, so, this bill seemed like the obvious answer to their question: What can I do to oppose her nomination?

DeVos’s confirmation was opposed by groups on both the left and the right. Teachers’ unions and their political backers have opposed DeVos’s support of school choice – which they fear will divert funding from public schools to private schools. Additionally, groups that note the education secretary has promoted the massive federal education law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) also oppose DeVos. Like Massie, these constitutionally based groups would like to see the federal role in education end.

Though Massie’s bill does not address the details of how the department would dismantle its many programs, he said, when the original bill was introduced, that he would propose DeVos, President Donald Trump, and Congress “work to either devolve those programs to the states, or transfer the authority for those programs to other departments.”

“Ideally, all of these programs would be administered at the state level, including the authority for the tax collection,” he explained. “In fact, some of these programs could be done at the local school district level.”

“I like to point out that there are 4,500 bureaucrats in the Department of Education, and their average salary is $105,000 a year,” Massie continued. “I’ve seen that irritate a lot of people back in Kentucky who have to have bake sales to buy copier paper for their classrooms.”

In an interview with The New American, Massie observed that the Education Department was “established by unpopular President Jimmy Carter as a ‘re-election tactic, as a ploy.’”

“But I saw an opportunity to re-introduce this notion as a bill when everybody got upset about [Trump Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos’ confirmation,” he said. “That was the last controversial confirmation.”

In his post about the reintroduction of his bill, the Kentucky Republican noted:

President Ronald Reagan once said, “There’s only one way to shrink the size and cost of big government, and that is by eliminating agencies that are not needed and are getting in the way of a solution … By eliminating the Department of Education … 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.”

Massie noted that the original co-sponsors of the bill included Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Jody Hice (R-GA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Chip Roy (R-TX), and Randy Weber (R-TX).



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