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Hynes: Time to abolish the U.S. Department of Education

As an educator, I have no use for the U.S. Department of Education.

The fact is, as parents and educators begin to understand the infinite failures of federal initiatives such as No Child Left Behind, the carrot-on-a-stick incentive on steroids called Race to the Top and the soon-to-be-passed version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act — this bloated department of non-educators has wasted tax dollars and ruined millions of children’s lives over the past four decades.

It is an experiment gone awry and it’s time for the U.S. Department of Education to go.

It’s as simple as that.

Now that our new acting secretary of education will be John King — the man who oversaw New York State’s disastrous rollout of the Common Core State Standards — that only makes my claim that much stronger.

The U.S. Department of Education was formed in 1980 by combining offices from several federal agencies. It now has 4,400 employees and a $68 billion budget.

The department claims to establish policies on federal financial aid for education. It also collects data on our schools and shares research. Finally, it asserts to focus national attention on key educational issues and pretends to prohibit discrimination and ensure equal access to education.

My question is, when was the last time this institution actually produced something positive for our children? According to the Department of Education’s website, its mission is to “promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.”

In practice, it has churned out one bad policy after another, policies that have been wreaking havoc on our public schools. This department has left a wake of children who have been tested to death and also degraded educators by reducing them to numbers.

What may have sounded like a good idea at the time, some 35 years ago, has proven to be both inefficient and unconstitutional. I don’t believe in federal control of our schools. I feel many of our parents and teachers can figure out for themselves how to educate our children. The challenge of a great education is best addressed as close to the student as possible. Local control should chart its own courses on education.

I fear the latest iteration of a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will perpetuate and enforce the terrible educational mindset of “How intelligent are you?” instead of “How are you intelligent?”

You can bet that the Department of Education won’t be far behind waiting to craft and enforce ridiculous policies, technology driven programs and unfunded mandates that schools will have to comply with.

By abolishing this behemoth, we will be better served to identify a child’s strength’s and interests while providing opportunities for all children to soar at the local level — right where all this belongs.


News | Hynes, Pat-Med working to reshape local educationMichael Hynes is the Patchogue-Medford School District superintendent.


About the author: Michael Hynes

Dr. Hynes is the Superintendent of Schools in the Patchogue-Medford School District on Long Island.