Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a Washington rarity.
While many officials in Washington are quietly building bureaucratic empires, Secretary DeVos has submitted a budget for the Department of Education that would slash its budget and reduce its power.
The DeVos budget would mean that the DOE would stand down for oversight of around $20 billion that is directed at K-12 programs, “21st Center Community Centers” and “Indian Education.” Under DeVos’ plan the money would be block granted to the states.
In other words, education would return to local control where is was for generations.
As an Examiner op-ed notes this won’t set well with teachers unions:
For teachers unions, the utterance of the word “local” is akin to throwing holy water on the possessed. “Local” means cutting out high-level bureaucrats and shrinking the power of lobbyists.
So much money has been poured into the DOE that the Examiner is skeptical that DeVos’ proposal to cut the current budget by $5 billion would make much difference:
The Obama administration in 2009 pumped $3 billion into a program that awarded an extra $2 million to underperforming public schools, so long as they made certain reforms. The money came from the School Improvement Grants initiative. And yet, according to a study by the education department published at the start of 2017, “Overall, across all grades, we found that implementing any [School Improvement Grant]-funded model had no significant impacts on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment.”
Placing virtually all K-12 funding into the hands of states and school districts would essentially cut the department’s responsibilities in half—a move in the direction that DeVos has pushed for with some success.
Both Reason’s Robby Soave and the Examiner’s Eddie Scarry give the DeVos budget zero chance of passing, given that it runs counter to the interest of the unions, which are a big part of the donor base for Democrats in Congress.
The unions have tried to make DeVos’ life difficult from the day she set foot in the department. Is she likely to bend? Scarry writes:
An underrated feature of President Trump’s first term has, without a doubt, been the visceral hatred directed at Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from self-interested people who defend our garbage public education system with every fiber of their being.
With her budget proposal out Monday, DeVos shows just how much it bothers her — which is to say, it doesn’t.
“This budget proposal is about one thing—putting students and their needs above all else,” DeVos said a statement.
This budget is a giant step in the right direction.