Trump/DeVos Looking to Pull the Federal Boot Off Education’s Back.
Keeping a campaign promise, President Trump signed an executive order yesterday directing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to review federal overreach into state and local management of K-12 education. On the campaign trail, Trump had promised to try to pull Washington back and restore authority to states and communities.
A serious problem in addressing the unhelpful behemoth is that interest groups, particularly union interests, treat criticism of the federal role as if it were criticism of the concept of education, as if pulling Washington’s paws back were the same thing as razing the local school house. When interest group power grabs meet political grandstanding and fearfulness, good policy suffers.
American communities elect local school boards and state legislatures. These institutions have all the authority and resources necessary to administer a quality education system, and did a good job for most of America’s history. Transferring more power and money to DC has not improved education. The former bodies are closer to, more representative of, and more accessible to the families they serve than the remote federal government. Trump’s directive to DeVos to figure out how to restore more authority to states and communities is a healthy step. It doesn’t actually grant her any additional power as she already has authority to administer and change Department priorities and actions. It does, though, give direction and stature to her task and demonstrate that she has the president’s support in her efforts.