Updated: Sep 4, 2021

Abolishing the Department of Education is the Right Thing to Do

The Department of Education deserves to be on the chopping block. Our children’s education is too important to be left up to a federal centralized bureaucracy. Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education as a political payoff to the teachers’ unions for their 1976 endorsement. We should judge all governmental agencies by their results rather than their intentions. Like virtually every federal department, the Department of Education has only made things worse. Student educational outcomes have worsened since the creation of the Department of Education.

Federal agencies always cost more than initially predicted. The Department of Education’s 2011 budget is nearly six times greater than its original budget. It has increased from $13.1 billion (in 2007 dollars) in 1980 to $77.8 billion in 2011. The federal government throwing more money at education has done virtually nothing to improve educational outcomes. Student test scores in math, reading and science have remained flat or declined over the past four decades. The chart below from the Cato Institute shows how increased federal spending has not had a positive effect on educational achievement:


In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States had the best-educated young people in the world, or pretty close to it. But a disturbing new report from the Council on Foreign Relations says that the generations who've followed the boomers haven't been able to maintain that global edge - and that, as a result, America's ability to compete economically is suffering as well.

It's not that 25-to-34-year-olds are less educated than boomers: 88 percent of them earned high school diplomas, compared with 90 percent of boomers, and they actually managed a tiny edge - 42 percent to 41 percent - in post-secondary degrees. The real problem is that they're slipping in relation to their global counterparts.

The department of education was created in for President Carter to secure the votes of the teacher’s union. In 1979 the Department of Education was formed.

Look at a graph of spending per student from 1979 to current. It sky-rockets in both college and grade school. What did we get for that spending? More teachers? More successful schools? NO. Administrative costs went up, we got more paper pushers. We got teachers being forced to teach for a standardized test instead of a successful life and career. We went from the best education system in the world to the bottom of the industrialized world.

The price of college has gone up over 3,000 %, why? Well, it’s not a mystery. What happens when you give millions of college students 10’s of thousands of dollars in loans with no collateral, all the sudden the price of education isn’t as important. All the sudden they want to pay a little more to go to the college with a day spa. College’s can increase the cost with out the normal regulator of a consumer in a free market restricting them. The price sensitivity of the students is greatly diminished while the colleges grow to resemble vacation retreats. These costs are baked into the cost of tuition and subsidized by the government guaranteed loan. Compounded by a huge increase in administrative costs college becomes almost impossible to afford without government aide. When the government distorts the market very few gains and most lose out.

Not to mention that almost anything you want to learn is available for free on the internet. While there is obviously a place for onsite learning, most of the education could be accomplished for free on your computer. You have access to the entirety of human knowledge and an infinite choice of teachers and study partners. Its Ironic that now that education is essentially free, our politicians want to spend trillions of dollars putting students in buildings to get an education they can get for free online. This is the opposite of logical.

Studies show that vouchers have a neutral or positive impact on student outcomes later in life, like attending college or graduating high school.

A study of Milwaukee’s long-running voucher program found that participants were more likely to graduate high school and attend four-year colleges. A recent follow-up study confirmed these results, but found that vouchers had no statistically significant effect on students’ likelihood of actually completing college.

Some shorter term studies found decreases in test scores for student enrolled in voucher programs. These instance should be taken with a grain of salt as these are new programs and short term studies and only studied the students ability to score high on a mandated test. Much of the problem with public schools is the emphasis on standardized test scores to get more funding. A voucher system that does not emphasis standardized test but gets better results in success in life should be seen as a benefit not a cost.

A private school scholarship program in New York did not lead to improvements in college enrollment on average, but did seem to have a positive effect for black and Hispanic students specifically. In Florida, a 2017 study and 2019 follow-up found that its tax credit program, the largest private school choice initiative in the country, led to increases in college enrollment and degree completion. Specifically, 12 percent of students who went to a private high school using a tax credit earned a bachelor’s degree; that compares to 10 percent among demographically similar students in public schools.

There is a large body of evidence suggesting that public schools get slightly better in response to competition from school voucher programs, at least as measured by test scores.

This has been seen in studies of Florida, Louisiana,