For the Kids, Please, D.C. Leaders Need to Streamline Department of Education

Judging by some of the grumbling I hear from my parents lately, there’s a big hubbub in Washington, D.C., about people in government borrowing bazillions of dollars and not paying it back — or something like that. Which reminds me… You really ought to watch this 2-minute video put together by my friends at the Independence Institute:

Even though it stars yucky girls, it won seventh place in some big national competition. Guess I should be happy for all of them — so sue me, all right?

But anyway, this is an education blog, and I did have a reason for bringing up D.C. and politicians. (Only so often, you know, don’t want to make it more than I can take.) Allison Sherry of our own Denver Post has an interesting write-up for Education Next on the education policies and platforms of leading Republican presidential contenders. While you should read through the whole thing, I picked out one section to highlight:

A candidate like [former Massachusetts governor Mitt] Romney or [former Minnesota governor Tim] Pawlenty is still going to have to explain to the Republican base why they’re not going to shutter the U.S. Department of Education. During the 2010 midterm elections, Tea Party Senate and House candidates across the country promised on the campaign trail that they would shut down the U.S. Department of Education and hand control over to state governments. Many of them are now members of Congress.

Shrinking the size and the budget of the U.S. Department of Education seems a cause we all can rally around, given the realities pointed out at the beginning of the post. Closing it down altogether in the near future seems a bridge too far, though on the Republican side it’s open for debate. Those candidates looking for a less stringent approach might consider the ideas set forth in a new American Enterprise Institute Outlook by Melissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric, titled “Federal Compliance Works against Education Policy Goals”. Recommendations for federal education policymakers include:

1. Closely examine all existing compliance requirements, whether statutory, regulatory, or OMB requirements, to ensure they are consistent with federal policy objectives and worth spending the time to enforce at the federal level and comply with at the state and local level.
2. Eliminate federal compliance requirements that do not directly relate to achieving federal educational policy goals.
3. Ensure federal requirements are aligned and not duplicative across programs.

Yeah, these recommendations aren’t the most exciting stuff to run on as a candidate. So I’m not a political campaign manager. But they do seem like the sort of basic actions that could attract a great deal of support — simple, basic things to do to start undoing the growth of the federal behemoth… For the kids. (Remember that video at the beginning?)