The Viewpoint: New education bill jeopardizes learning opportunities


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The Department of Education was established 37 years ago by President Jimmy Carter.

Education, a building block for the foundation for success, is a crucial component for advancing in society. By informing and inspiring students, students are educated on essential material that will not only have a longstanding impact on their development as individuals, but on the country as a whole. As future leaders of the nation, these students should be given substantial opportunities to grasp imperative concepts such as skills-based health education and critical thinking skills in order to succeed in the future. However, the H.R. 899, a bill introduced on Feb. 7, has proposed to terminate the Department of Education on Dec. 31, 2018.                   

The  Department of Education’s priority is “…to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.”  It collects data on U.S. schools, represents national policies on curriculum standards, and enforces federal educational laws, civil rights, and student aid. In turn, proposal to abolish this department from the federal government puts students’ educational opportunities and their futures at a significant risk.

Education is envisioned as an equalizer for all students, as the Department of Education has helped to ensure that factors such as race, income, language and disability are not barriers to a quality education by providing protections and supplemental resources. As a result, high school graduation rates have soared to an all time-high; dropout rates have declined dramatically; college going rates are the highest they have ever been; test scores across the nation are improving each school year.

Therefore, the dissolution of the Department will not only widen the achievement gap, but notably hinder the achievements gained. In addition, federal funds supplied to assist states and school districts will decrease, as K-12 education will lose more than $175 million used to help improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools across the nation while students with disabilities and military families, Native American students, students living in U.S. territories, and students living on federal property or Native American lands would lose a total of $13.8 billion per year for their schools. In addition, $1.3 trillion in student loans would be at risk, 8 million students would lose Pell grants every year, and 490,000 or more teacher positions could be eliminated.

Progress in the classroom also means progress in the nation. By eliminating the Department of Education, the ability for a classroom to successfully advance is difficult. While some would argue that the Department of Education is at fault and is in need of reform, it is ineffective to allow the states and local communities to take charge in students’ learning and development. Existing among the local level is an educational disparity that varies from socioeconomic class to religious values to cultural values.

Getting rid of the Department of Education would cause many students to learn at a different pace or in divergent curriculums, creating confusion among students and complication in getting the students caught up in the future. Therefore, federal intervention is crucial to ensure that every student gets the same high quality or equal level of education.

While the implementation of the H.R. 899 would eliminate the Department’s $68 billion annual budget, saving American taxpayers’ money, the bill could have long term effects that could be detrimental to the student population, as lack of regulation in educational policies and public oversight would result in privately funded institutions that shape learning around personal and religious beliefs.

In effect, students have a distorted view that does not shape their own analysis and consideration, but rather reflects the beliefs imposed on them by the local establishment. Diversity therefore, is limited among students, as they are dissuaded from thinking independently and creatively, resulting in all aspects of life becoming politicized to the extent where there is no longer unity between the 50 states.

Although the H.R. 899 puts the students’ education and future at jeopardization, those in favor of the bill have argued that the state and local communities are in the best position to shape the curriculum that will correctly meet the needs of their students. In other words, parents, home schools, public schools, or private schools have the right and ability to choose the most appropriate educational opportunity for its children. In their reasoning, the government has put too much of its regulation into the education system and has developed a Common Core that is inefficient. The government-managed Department of Education does not have the experience to execute an educational system for the whole student population as it removes the independence of local districts to determine what students learn.

With this perspective, those in support believe that the government will not be able to understand the needs of the schools and its students on an individual basis. Thus, they strongly advocate that education can only advance forward if the responsibility of the students’ educational opportunity rests primarily with parents, teachers, and state and local officials who already know the individuals on a personal level. Despite these counterarguments, America’s education program is extremely decentralized. The government is not heavily influencing the system and the specific educational standards for each school as each individual state is able to maintain a good level of power.

In order for  society to progress to continue to maintain a prominent status of advancement in the world, it is important to offer students the best education system and learning development possible. Therefore, a unified educational system is vital to the success and strength of this country. By ensuring common educational opportunities and standards for everyone, students will receive vital, unbiased, and equal levels of knowledge and skills. The country as a whole will be able to push forward. For this to happen, a government regulated group, the Department of Education, must be maintained.