Retire Secretary DeVos

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited Grand Rapids Community College on Tuesday. While there, the Grand Rapids native toured various campus facilities, focusing on the culinary program and skilled trades. When questioned about President Trump’s proposed cuts to the Department of Education budget, DeVos stated that she and Trump support teachers, and want to work with teachers to approach teaching differently.

With Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education in the Michigan news, I decided to evaluate whether she should be Secretary of Education at all. Given the controversy surrounding her confirmation (a tie was broken by Vice President Pence), I’m sure the left will love the conclusion I have reached: Betsy DeVos should not be the Secretary of Education.

No one should be the Secretary of Education. The Department of Education (ED) should be abolished. For far too long, the federal government has seized control of policy fields that are best left to the states. Education is only one example of many. Certainly, abolishing ED is not a novel idea, and has been proposed by various presidential candidates, including Rick Perry and Ted Cruz.

Nowhere in Article I, Section 8 (or anywhere else) does the Constitution give the federal government the power to regulate, fund, or otherwise control education. And as the Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Very few would disagree that the No Child Left Behind Act was a terrible policy decision. Under No Child Left Behind, the federal government forced national requirements on state education systems. The problem is, the federal government does not directly understand the needs of students. Ultimately, parents and teachers know children best, and decisions should be made by those who truly understand the situation.

There are certainly arguments for and against education run by even state governments, but I won’t get into those now. Constitutionally speaking, the states are permitted to set up education systems and regulations. The federal government is not. As James Madison wrote in Federalist 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

The modern Department of Education was founded in 1979 under the Jimmy Carter administration. Perhaps, in 2017, under a Republican-controlled Congress and the Trump administration, we can abolish the Department of Education and begin to restore the federalist balance of powers between states and the federal government. Legislation introduced by Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) would do just that, and the left could be satisfied knowing that Betsy DeVos would be retired as Secretary of Education. On the other hand, big government would also be retired, and I don’t know if the left could support that.

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