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The U.S. Department of Education

The Department of Education is a microcosm of what is wrong with government. The Department of Education was authorized by the Socialist controlled U.S. Congress in 1979 and signed into law by the Socialist President Jimmy Carter over the vehement objections of the Republican Party, which argued it was just another government “make work” bureaucratic entity (which is exactly what it is). In 2017 this department has about 5,000 employees and a budget of about $100 billion dollars. Its functions kept expanding because of executive orders and the infamous “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001, signed by President George W. Bush (Bush the second). “No Child Left Behind” would have been better titled “Almost Every Child Left Behind” or even better “No Government Employee Left Behind”. Under the Department of Education, we have all types of government-speak entities created by “No Child Left Behind” including: Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools” (they’re doing a great job); Office of Innovation and Improvement (whatever that means); Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Office of English Language Acquisition (where do we acquire this); etc.; etc.; etc. Then we have the government-speak entities created by executive order including: White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities staff; White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Staff; White House Initiative on  Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans; etc.; etc.; etc. We also have an Office of Legislation & Congressional Affairs whose primary task, we are sure, is to be certain that Congress does not find out what is taking place in Education so that all those great government jobs will remain in place. They also have an Office for Civil Rights (gee, we thought the Justice Department did this) and all the other internal functions that any red-blooded bureaucratic department requires. They even have an International Affairs office for some reason that no one can determine.

The Education Department really only does three main things: they administer student loans and grants (more about this later); they ship money to the states (assuming they have behaved); and they drive state and local educators crazy with blizzards of paperwork so the Education Department can justify its existence (this, of course, requires local school boards to hire more bureaucrats to process all the paperwork so they can get their federal funds).

Our favorite part of the Education Department is the “Institute of Education Sciences.” This is, in actuality, a sort of “think tank” whose charter is to “provide rigorous evidence on which to ground education practice and policy.” As far as we can determine, despite their theories and statistics, in over fifteen years they have never produced one single concept which has helped improve student learning. Oh wait, we forgot, they may have thought of Common Core. When you ask these people what they are doing you always get some government doublespeak. It seems they just have too much “rigorous evidence” to manage. Nonsense like this makes Orwell look like a beginner.

They tried to have a Department of Education briefly in the 1800s but they realized it was unnecessary so they just made it into an office with a few employees. People were smarter then.

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Claiborne Pell (1918-2009) was a six-term Senator from Rhode Island. He was a courtly gentleman with fine manners, although he seemed a little quirky. When you asked him what was his proudest achievement he said “Pell Grants.” In spite of his polished exterior, inside beat the heart of a fanatical liberal socialist.

Claiborne Pell was the heir to the Lorillard Tobacco fortune and he married Nuala O’Donnell, the heir to the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Fortune. Together they may have been the wealthiest couple in Rhode Island history. Claiborne had a lot of money and not much to do so he got himself elected as a Senator from Rhode Island. Now if Claiborne had wanted to hand out money to needy children to go to college he could have used his own money – he had plenty of it – and set up a Pell Grant fund of his own. Fanatical socialists don’t want to use their money, however; they want to use yours and they want to do it on a grand scale.

Claiborne got the Socialist Party in Congress together and they produced and passed Pell Grants which give money to college students based upon need. In 2017 the amount of Pell Grant money given to college students will be about $20 billion with a maximum per year per student of about $6,000. This means that, in effect, every person in the United States is contributing about $75.00 per year for free educations. There are some working families of four that might like to have that $300 per year. Be advised that there are no criteria other than need.

You can tell a socialist program because it is essentially a redistribution of wealth from which you have no opportunity to recover. If you are taxed to pay for a road you have an opportunity to use the road so you have recovery. If you are taxed for Social Security you have an opportunity to recover because if you live long enough you will get a return. But if you are taxed so that your money can be handed to someone else who provides you with no services, you cannot recover. This is the essence of liberal socialism and it is destroying America. It can come in many forms other than taxation, but the result is always the same.

Rhode Islanders should be ashamed of themselves.

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Socialist President Lyndon Johnson signed the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. It expires periodically but is always renewed. From the HEA sprung the Perkins Loan Program for very low-income families and the Federal Stafford Loan Program which is also based upon need and is the primary student loan guarantee program in the United States. Between Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, and Perkins Loans, all based upon need, you have a basis for one of the Education Department’s three main functions.

There is no regulation on who is qualified to be in college and who is not; if the “need” is there that is all that matters. In 2017, some universities send recruiters to low income neighborhoods trying to locate people to go to college so the universities can keep the federal money coming in and stay afloat. Many of these “recruits” have low SAT scores and a poor academic record and no possibility of ever having a meaningful university experience, so they drift to majors like “Bakery Science” or “Puppet Arts” where you have no potential to learn any job skills but are useful to the university to keep students in school for four years so the cash keeps flowing.

Why did we decide to guarantee student loans and give grants to students based solely upon need? Shouldn’t they have some potential as shown by grade point average, test scores, student achievement, or some other objective criteria which show a pattern of success? Maybe they could all become lawyers: we need another ten million of them. Your socialist dollars in action.

There is a ton of private money out there for young people with ability and need, but socialism must march on. The Stafford Loan default rate in 2017 is currently about 10 percent per year. That doesn’t sound like much but you must remember there is a ten-year payback available on these unsecured loans. The government is losing a ton of money on people who in many cases have no business being in college.

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The Department of Education must be eliminated. Not only is federal control of education unconstitutional but the one size fits all mentality of the federal government is failing here in a monumental way.

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