The United States Department of Education is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government. The first Department of Education was created in 1867 under Republican President Andrew Johnson, but soon was demoted to an Office in 1868. In 1979, under President Jimmy Carter, the Department of Education was recreated.
Controversy Concerning Department’s Existence
The Republican Party has consistently opposed the existence of the Department of Education, arguing that there is no constitutional basis for the Department. Conservatives and libertarians believe education is a state and local responsibility instead of a federal issue.
Democrats and liberals, however, argue the existence and funding role of the Department of Education is constitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Taxing and Spending Clause, respectively.
The Need for Re-Training and Continued Education
Despite our still-high national unemployment rate,, there are industries that are in need of well-trained, qualified employees. CareerBuilder reports that despite an abundant labor pool more than 20 percent of employers have positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates. Nearly 50 percent of human resources managers state there are areas of their organization in which they lack qualified workers. With our aging population, the health care field, in particular, is experiencing continual shortages of qualified workers.
The days are gone in which a high school education and even a four-year college degree can be enough to get you though life in our work force. In the modern economy, lifelong learning is essential for survival. Furthermore, few will spend their entire work lives in just one career.
Opportunities in continued education and re-training are essential for revitalizing our economy and sustaining our nation’s economic global prominence.
The Need for the Department of Education
While education is certainly a state and local responsibility, states and cities do not exist in a vacuum. We are the United States and what happens in one state can affect surrounding states and indeed the nation as a whole.
The Department of Education has an important function in fostering cooperation in the educational efforts of the states as well as in providing funding and resources that the states cannot individually provide to their citizens.
If there are issues concerning the effectiveness and efficiency of the Department’s efforts in these regards, the answer is not to eliminate the Department of Education nor render it totally ineffective by strangling its funding.
Put Ideology Aside and Work Together for Improvement
The Department of Education has been in operation for over 30 years. It is established and functional, and it has an important role to play in helping to revitalize our nation’s economy.
Rather than use the threat of defunding and eliminating the Department in stump speeches to excite the extreme elements of their party, Republicans should focus on improving the Department of Education and making it more effective in providing much needed educational opportunities.
If the focus is on cooperation and strengthening the Department’s effectiveness, the economic dividends to this country will quite possibly enable the states and local entities to, in turn, become more efficient and effective in providing continued and advanced educational opportunities for their citizens. The end result may very well be a reduced need for the Department of Education at the federal level. Just what the Republican Party wants. Yes?
Of course it could be that the Republican Party has always opposed the Department of Education because Republicans really do not want a well-educated American populace. No, that couldn’t be true. Could it?