WASHINGTON, February 9, 2017—The day after Betsy DeVos’ contested confirmation as secretary of education, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie (R) introduced a one-sentence bill to abolish the Department of Education.
The bill, H.R. 899, reads in its entirety:
“The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”
Massie’s bill is cosponsored by seven other Republican representatives: House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (UT) and Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (FL), Jody Hice (GA), Raúl Labrador (ID), Justin Amash (MI), and Walter Jones (NC).
“For years, I have advocated returning education policy to where it belongs – the state and local level,” said Rep. Walter Jones. “D.C. bureaucrats cannot begin to understand the needs of schools and its students on an individual basis. It is time that we get the feds out of the classroom, and terminate the Department of Education.”
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
“Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development,” stated Massie in a press release. “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.”
The Department of Education has been the target of many Republicans since its creation in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter. President Ronald Reagan spoke of dismantling the Departments of Energy and Education, but did not actually do it.
“Education of our students should lie primarily with parents, teachers, and state and local officials who know how to meet their individual needs best,” said Rep. Andy Biggs. “Since its inception, the Department of Education has grown into an unrecognizable federal beast, and its policies have helped foster Common Core across the country. It is time the one-size-fits-all approach by the federal government is ended and authority is returned to the local level.”
However, it is highly unlikely that the Department of Education will actually be abolished.
“Whatever you think about the Department of Education, the idea you could eliminate it with a one-sentence bill is just posturing,” said David Schoenbrod, professor at New York Law School, to NPR. “Posturing is not something that’s just done by Democrats or by Republicans. It’s done by both.”
Thomas Massie has been in Congress since 2012, is currently also supporting a bill to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and supports the U.S. withdraw from the United Nations. He has also been associated with the Tea Party.
Featured image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons