About That Bill Abolishing The Department Of Education
Tuesday was a busy day for education policy.
Betsy DeVos, you may have heard, was confirmed as Secretary of Education with an unprecedented tiebreaker vote.
The House of Representatives also voted to throw out a lot of rules that were decided on just last year. These rules tell states how to comply with the new federal education law with regard to identifying and improving underperforming schools, as well as evaluating teacher-preparation programs in higher education.
And, Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican representing Kentucky's 4th District, introduced a bill in the House as well. Here is the text of that bill, in full:
"The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018."
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., has introduced a bill in the House stating: "The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018."
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.
Speculation about DeVos and what her leadership might bring has generated millions of clicks this week. For insight on these other two developments, I called up David Schoenbrod. He's a professor at New York Law School and the author of several books about the Congressional role in crafting law and regulation.
Spoiler alert: The Education Department is unlikely to be eliminated, particularly by a bill that declines to specify who or what would take over its $68 billion annual budget and the functions of data collection, oversight, civil rights enforcement and student aid, among others.
"Whatever you think about the Department of Education, the idea you could eliminate it with a one-sentence bill is just posturing," Schoenbrod says. "Posturing is not something that's just done by Democrats or by Republicans. It's done by both."
This issue is personal for Schoenbrod. Back in the 1970s, Schoenbrod was staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, fighting for Congress to ban lead in gasoline — which made its way into air, water and the bloodstreams of children with harmful and deadly effect. Because legislators did not specify a timeline or a mechanism, he argues, enforcement was delayed by a decade. "They voted for the symbolism but didn't want to take responsibility for how it was done," Schoenbrod says.