Can the Education Department Be Killed With One Sentence?

Kentucky Republican introduces concise bill to abolish the department as it turns 40.

The GOP’s hopes date back to the early Reagan administration: abolish the federal education department set up under President Carter in 1978.

Taking down the federal “nanny” they see as an intruder in local school district management has been a holy grail in Republican primary campaigns ever since.

This Tuesday, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., timing it to the Senate confirmation of private-sector school choice activist Betsy DeVos as Education secretary, introduced H.R. 899 consisting of one sentence: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

Massie elaborated in a statement: “Neither Congress nor the president, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn. Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students. Schools should be accountable. Parents have the right to choose the most appropriate educational opportunity for their children, including home school, public school, or private school."

His co-sponsors for killing the 4,200-employee department that administers Pell Grants, the student loan program and civil rights enforcement include: Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich; Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah; Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.; Jody Hice, R-Ga.; Walter Jones, R-N.C.; and Raul Labrador, R-Idaho.

Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement that “the one-size-fits-all cookie cutter approach to education has failed.…Utah has some of the greatest teachers and administrators in the country. We need to get out of their way and let them innovate."

But when Chaffetz mentioned the plan on Thursday at a town hall filled with constituents angry at his handling of the early Trump administration, he was booed, according to several news accounts with video.

Trump has favored killing the department since as early as October 2015. The Reagan administration, however, found that is much easier said than done.