The federal Department of Education has been a source of criticism on the GOP presidential campaign trail. In addition to overall shrinking of federal policies, many Republican candidates have expressed their desire to abolish the federal department and funnel more money—and control—back to the states and local schools. Sen. Michele Bachman, Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have all listed the Department of Education as one federal agency they would like to take an ax to.
“I think that this is an issue that needs to be handled at the local level,” said Bachmann at the Palmetto Freedom Forum in September. “I don’t like to have the federal government involved in telling the local schools what to do. For one thing, there was no federal Department of Education until the late 1970s. I actually want to end the federal Department of Education.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has suggested he would like to cut the agency in half. “I don’t think the federal government has a role in your children’s education,” said Perry campaigning in Iowa, according to ThinkProgress.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education received over $60 billion in funding. While that funding could be doled out to states, some worry the reduced federal presence would take a step backward in terms of accountability and successes by federal programs.
According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the department is needed for accountability, resources, and to set high standards. “I’m very publicly critical of our department of education,” Duncan told DA magazine. “We have made progress in states in the last couple of years. We’re here to provide resources and best practices. I think that’s the proper role for the federal government.”