by Gary Beach

Abolish The United States Dept of Education

Jul 02, 20075 mins
IT Leadership

A month ago at a Wall Street Journal conference I asked Senator John McCain if elected president would he abolish the US Department of Education?

He responded with mumbo jumbo about “no not really…..the No Child Left Behind program is producing better test results etc.

Yet the overwhelming tenor of the comments to my “Boiling the Frog” entry suggests the US system of education is broken, out of touch with reality and is really operating to the tune of “No Child Left Alive” as it focuses on bringing up bottom performers rather than focus evenly on all kids…including talented and gifted ones.

I couldn’t help but think of the decline of the Roman empire as I read some of the posts. Our education system is built on a model of “utter lack of emphasis on discipline…..too many resources (students routinely pull out calculators to substract 5 from 8)…..and our system has built in an enthusiasm for irreverance exhibiting no morals for kids to imbide and no connection with any person except one related to money”

Speaking of money, another wrote that while he/she was “sitting on the sidelines” in response to my call to get involved in teaching science and math in America, why should he/she “give up my six figure salary to teach at the local high school for $42,000? It doesn’t take much math skill to see which direction to take.”

This same poster lambasted the “stupid” rules “about having to have a degree in secondary education” to teach science or math. Not exactly a logical flow here… degree but give me a hundred k please? Dah!

One response came from a project manager who, hooray, does subbing in AP Physics and Calculus.

But that’s where the upside ends.

This person, too, is downstruck with the state of affairs in science/math education, and the overall field of engineering in general.

His/her front line observation on science/math educators is chilling: “new teachers were high school and collegiate bottom performers…..old teachers are burnt out and killing their time to retirement…..administrators do anything to keep their jobs – including sacrificing teachers”

Hmm, not exactly a prescription for success.

Hence to the dismantle the US Department of Education thought.

As we know in IT, bad governance and management upsets the entire applecart.

So too in how we teach science/math in

America. Bad governance kills.

There is just too much federal – and state – involvement in education….and particularly the funding of public education in America. A good portion of funding is tied directly to national/state test scores which has “reduced the time investment in our children and their curriculum”. Those is this camp also debunk the rising test scores saying too many schools are teaching “to just what it takes to get a good score and nothing more”.

This same exec asks “the” key question  parents/IT execs must sooner or later confront: what are we willing to do if you KNOW your child IS at RISK?”

Granted, most of the responses to the Boiling Frog piece came from the same side of the aisle…..those disenchanted with how we educate our kids in general and in specifics with regards to science and math.

I am solidly with them in thought and spirit.

Are their any of you out there in land who think public education should be funded by the federal government…and to a lesser extent by the state dept of educations?

I see a two-part solution.

First abolish the US Dept of Education and allocate all the funds based on electoral counts to the 50 states. Those with more electoral votes get more funds.

Second, and most important, the states would then distribute their respective funds to each of the congressional districts based on a population formula with districts with more people getting more money.

Each region, each state, each county, each town in America is different and the closer we get to putting the money to work in the hands of parents and interested tax payers who best know the education risks their kids face at the local level the better our system will be.

It will not happen overnight.

If the US Department of Ed went away and the funds distributed, it would take 10 years or more to get our system back on track.

Those favoring the current system I encourage you to convince me otherwise. Your arguments had better be good. As a nation who has sat still since the 1983 “Nation at Risk” report,we are starting to feel the pain of inaction.we have no other options.

Now is time to act.

Should the US Department of Education stay or


Take this piece and post it anywhere you can. Let’s get lots of voices in the conversation.

I look forward to your responses.