PROPOSAL– reduce spending on the Department of Education 25% each year, abolishing  the department after 4 years.
In 1979, President  Jimmy Carter decided to spin education matters out of Health, Education and Welfare [HEW] so he could create yet another federal bureaucracy,  the Department of Education.
HEW became the Department of Health and Human Services[HHS] which now includes Medicare and Medicaid and had a budget for Fiscal Year 2015 of $1.020 trillion.
It is HHS which  sued the Little Sisters of the Poor to force them to fund abortions.


There are very few areas which I believe are better served with federal government control.

I worked for the US Dept of Justice for five years – three as an Assistant United States Attorney [AUSA] in DC and  Los Angeles, and two years as an attorney in the Criminal Division at the main Justice Department. [DOJ]

The AUSAs, at least back in the 60s, gave taxpayers more than their monies’ worth; most of us worked many hours of overtime with no extra compensation; in fact, our compensation was substantially less than that of lawyers in the DOJ, and we could actually try cases!

What I remember from my DOJ days was my shock at the budget game.  Then, the fiscal year ended June 30.  In April/May, people would run around looking for projects to fund because they had not used up their budget, and, God forbid, they go back to Congress on next year’s budget with a surplus.  To advance in bureaucracy, they had to grow – more money and more employees.  In the private sector, if one got the job done and under budget, one was rewarded.  In government, the incentives work the wrong way.

So the Department of Education was heaven-sent for bureaucrats to increase administrative personnel and obtain bigger budgets. And that is exactly what happened.


In 1965, when Education was still part of HEW, the office had 2,113 employees and a budget of $1.5 billion. Carter’s decision to create a separate department won him the support of National Education Association[NEA] and the American Federation of Teachers,which support continues for the Democrats to this day. In its first year,1980, the Department of Education had 6,400 employees and a budget of $14 billion.

For 2016, the budget is $71 billion!

And that does not tell the whole story. If one adds in spending from other federal departments, the total exceeds $80 million!


According to its website, DOE’s first duty is to “[establish] policies relating to federal financial aid for education, administer distribution of those funds and monitor their use.”
Student loan debt is currently $1.3 trillion, with no end in sight.
The Government program has caused increased debt because the colleges and universities have used the availability of student loans to raise tuition.
The increased tuition has gone to adding administrators. Between 1987 and 2012, universities hired 517,636 new administrators or professional employees.
And it will get worse.  Students believe, not unreasonably, that they can default on the loans and be forgiven. The Obama administration intends to make making it easier for students to have their student loans forgiven. It is estimated that will add another $43 billion to the taxpayers bill.
The Department of Education [DOE] has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to support the increasingly unpopular Common Core State Standards, which data show students are not being prepared for college or for a career. Children are not leaving public schools prepared to compete against other countries either. In a 2013 piece analyzing “American Schools vs. the World,” The Atlantic labeled U.S. schools as “expensive, unequal, and bad at math.”

And the results of all this money spent on education?

Student test scores in math, reading and science have remained flat or declined over the past four decades!

Star Parker is the founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a public policy think tank that promotes market-based solutions to fight poverty. She points out:

It would be good news if the Department of Education just wasted the money it gets from our hard-earned taxes. But it uses the money to do real damage. Nothing could provide a better example than the newly issued guidance letter that the Department of Education, jointly with the Justice Department, just sent to public school districts across the country, threatening to cut off federal funds if public schools do not comply with guidelines for treatment of so-called transgender students …. despite the prodigious federal spending, test scores in reading and math have hardly changed. …[spending] amounts to $1,600 for every child enrolled in public schools…To repeat, the Department of Education is not just wasting the billions it controls. It does substantial damage by forcing its own left-wing views on the nation’s families.

The Education department should be shut down and these funds should either be returned to taxpayers and or sent to parents with children in public schools to be used toward vouchers to allow them to choose where to send their children to school.  [Emphasis added.]

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education reports: “Every year in the United States, nearly 60 percent of first-year college students discover that, despite being fully eligible to attend college, they are not ready for postsecondary studies.”  This is even more troubling given that many college courses have been dumbed down.
Consider these courses: “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame” at the University of South Carolina. Cornell University’s physical education department offers a class titled “Recreational Tree Climbing.” At Georgia State University, the English department offers a course called “Kayne [Kanye?] vs. Everybody.” At Tufts University’s Experimental College, one can take a class called “Demystifying the Hipster.” Skidmore College’s sociology department offers “The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender and Media.” Frostburg State University’s physics department offers “The Science of Harry Potter,” where it examines some of the tale’s magic. Georgetown University offers “Philosophy and Star Trek,”
Dumbing down? “According to a Philadelphia magazine article, the percentage of college grads who can read and interpret a food label has fallen from 40 to 30. …NBC News reported that Fortune 500 companies spend about $3 billion annually to train employees in “basic English.”
The impact of all this hits minorities especially hard. Two black economists, Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams have written extensively on this.
Sowell, of Stanford’s Hoover Institute, lamented the destruction of Dunbar High School in Washington, DC. For decades, the school drew black students throughout the city and  sent its graduates to the top universities, from which they graduated and had distinguished careers. But it ‘lacked’ two ‘prerequisites’  – there was no “diversity”  and no “adequate building.” Yet its students flourished.
That ended with the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education which held racially separate schools were “inherently unequal.”  Sowell pointed out that Dunbar “was a living refutation of that assumption. And it was within walking distance of the Supreme Court. A higher percentage of Dunbar graduates went on to college than the percentage at any white public high school in Washington…There is no question that racially segregated schools in the South provided an inadequate education for blacks. But the assumption that racial ‘integration’ was the answer led to years of racial polarization and Dunbar could now accept only students from the rough ghetto neighborhood in which it was located. … As unmotivated, unruly and disruptive students flooded in, Dunbar teachers began moving out and many retired. More than 80 years of academic excellence simply vanished into thin air…Today, there is a new Dunbar High School building, costing more than $100 million. But its graduates go on to college at only about half the rate of Dunbar graduates in earlier and poorer times.”
Walter Williams, of George Mason University, has criticized the government for claiming that minority discipline rates are due to racism rather than to the actual cause, student behavior.
He also pointed out poor SAT scores, 1550 being an indication of ability for college level work. Whites averaged 1576 of 2400, blacks 1277 which was  the lowest score of the seven reported racial groups. Only 32 percent of white students scored at or above proficient in math, and just 7 percent of black students did. Only forty-six percent of white test takers scored proficient in reading, and just 17 percent of blacks did.
In response to black students’ claims of racist oppression, colleges  created whole departments of ethnic, diversity and multicultural studies, which are not serious education but offer an opportunity for an easy A.
Affirmative action has hurt not helped. Students, not ready for the tough courses, feel isolated and fail, whereas they might have succeeded in less competitive schools. Williams concludes with a question:
“Are we going to sacrifice our youngsters so that white liberals can feel good about themselves?”
Meanwhile, the schools have become breeding grounds for indoctrination in “liberal” politics
These days, if one donates money to an American university, it is much worse than wasting the money. The money subsidizes the most anti-liberal, anti-American institution in America.
The schools are overwhelmingly Left.  Georgetown law professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz noted:
“It is a shame that our greatest universities have become ideologically monolithic,…At many of these schools, including Georgetown Law School, most students will graduate without ever laying eyes on a single Republican professor.Ideally these universities would expose students to the most powerful arguments on both sides of the great issues, rather than indoctrinating them with the ideology of the far left.”
The evidence supports his conclusion.
In the presidential race in 2012, every one of the eight universities in the Ivy League saw more than 90 percent of faculty donations go to Obama.
The schools allow students to shout down conservative speakers or the schools bar such speakers. Cal State LA canceled a speaking date: “… it will be best for our campus community if we reschedule Ben Shapiro’s appearance for a later date, so that we can arrange for him to appear as part of a group of speakers with differing viewpoints on diversity. Such an event will better represent our university’s dedication to the free exchange of ideas.”But Walter Williams pointed out “leftists such as Cornel West, Angela Davis and Tim Wise spoke without differing viewpoints offered.”
Jason Riley, a Wall Street Journal columnist and and author of Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed did get to speak at Wellesley but was surprised that conservative students were silent in the question and answer session. A student told him “You get to leave when you’re done. We have to live with these people until we graduate.”
At Dartmouth, students chanting “Black Lives Matter”… harassed other students studying in the library. One girl was assaulted and called a “filthy white b?-?-?-?h.”Chants included “F?-?-?k you, you filthy white f?-?-?ks!”
How did Dartmouth respond?  The Vice Provost apologized, not to the studying students but to the attackers! “I’m very, very sorry that you feel this way. We don’t want you to have this experience here. …  the protest was a wonderful, beautiful thing.” [Emphasis added.]
And more reductio ad absurdum?
Students and faculty are told they must avoid racist and bigoted “microaggressions.” Among these are “There is only one race, the human race….America is a melting pot…..America is the land of opportunity.” [Prager article cited above]
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee includes “politically correct” and “PC”  as microaggressions and The University of New Hampshire includes ”American, illegal alien, foreigners, mothering, fathering.”
Perhaps the most troubling consequence is the denigration of the best of our civilization. It is a crusade for the Left to eliminate the influence of “old white men” upon our culture. The Left insists
that no culture is better than another, that there is no objective standard of excellence.  It is the antithesis of education to dismiss Shakespeare and Beethoven because they were white and European. The  price of that ideology is the loss of intelligence.
Prager: “…the left has succeeded in teaching that no art is better than any other. It has done so by substituting race, gender and class for wisdom, beauty and profundity, and through its doctrine of multiculturalism, which asserts that all cultures are equal….”
Consideration of the foregoing evokes the classic slogan for the United Negro College Fund:
A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Viewing any of the many you-tube campus interviews with college students distressingly proves that minds are being wasted. Students do not know what the Civil War was or think the “confederates” won, do not know how our nation started or when the Revolution was, have no idea who the vice president is but can identify “Snookie” [I do not know who that is] and tell the interviewer who were Brad Pitt’s first and second wives!  E.g.
The 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights 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.”
Education is NOT a listed  federal power.
Whether constitutional or not, the DOE has demonstrated it has been a monumentally bad idea. Teresa Mull, managing editor of the Heartland Institute’s School Reform News, summed it up beautifully:
“DOE is a wretched and intrusive experiment that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars since it was created and has failed to accomplish most of its primary goals. DOE has not proven its value. It’s time to cut funding for this unconstitutional, worthless agency and return control of education to state and local governments and, most importantly, to parents.
The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program…
If you serve a child a rotten hamburger in America, federal, state, and local agencies will investigate you, summon you, close you down, whatever. But if you provide a child with a rotten education, nothing happens, except that you’re liable to be given more money to do it with. Well, we’ve discovered that money alone isn’t the answer….
– Ronald Reagan

Dick Coleman

Richard M. Coleman served as National Co-Chair, Lawyers for Reagan-Bush ’84 and really does miss RR. A graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, Dick is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a past president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and of the National Caucus of Metropolitan Bar Leaders. A professor on the faculty of Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution for 17 years, he received Pepperdine’s Excellence in Teaching Award. He has hosted TV forums on legal and financial topics and written and spoken extensively on political issues.

© Richard M. Coleman 2018