On the US Dept of Education

On the US Dept of Education February 18, 2017
Public Domain, from Wikipedia.
Public Domain, from Wikipedia.

Around the time of the Devos nomination, a lot of people were sharing the Wikipedia-informed idea that the Dept of Education was invented in 1979 and that if we just blow it up then we will lose the federal schooling apparatus. Sorry to burst your bubble, folks, but that story is sophomoric in the sense that it has a death grip on one small fact to the ignorance of all others.

The Common School Movement was a Whig party initiative that was passed state to state, but ALL THE STATES passed compulsory schooling statutes between the 1850s and the 1910s and the states annexed thereafter had compulsory schooling as a buy-in part of the paperwork. Then, to oversimplify, the Cold War schooling discourse that led to the 1957 Education Defense Act was really the next level of federalism, followed by the Nation at Risk report of the early 80s.
There is also an argument to make for the Wartime Congress increasing the federal relation to schooling, but that is true in a very general way. I won’t bore you all with more details (such as the recent string of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top and Common Core) but the reality is that, no, hell no, there is no way that eliminating the Dept of Ed will take us back to a pre-federalization of schooling.
To think this is to absolutely misunderstand what compulsory schooling is and how it became the national and now global norm. So, please, stop with the Wikipedia bullshit and try to think beyond a little bit or ask questions from people who sort of know things about this and study it at length. 

Browse Our Archives