For those of us who recognize that federal k-12 education spending has been a costly failure, it’s been great to hear some tea party candidates call for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education.

Unfortunately, the party favored by tea party supporters at the moment has no interest in shuttering the DOE. After all, it was Republican House minority leader John Boehner—possibly the next speaker of the House—who worked with the departed Sen. Ted Kennedy to give us the expensive and intrusive No Child Left Behind law.

Rep. John Kline (R-MN), who would be in line to chair the House Education and Labor Committee, says abolishing the DOE wouldn’t happen on his watch.


“Those who call for abolishing the Department of Education, that’s simply not going to get done,” said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who is in line to chair the Education and Labor Committee if the GOP wins control of the House.

Kline knows he will have to contend next year with a crop of scrappy new committee members who might not want to delve into the specifics of student testing or curriculum standards, but he has an answer. “It’s not simply enough to say, ‘I’m only going to vote for abolishing the Department of Education,’” he told National Journal in an interview. “No Child Left Behind is the law. It’s moving forward.”

The last I checked, laws can be repealed. But I suppose that when you’re in line to control a big pot of other people’s money, the temptation to play with it is just too great.

A recent press release on Kline’s website lists federal education dollars that would be sent back to his Minnesota district’s schools this year if the government “fully funded” the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Here’s a novel idea: why not just let Minnesota and the rest of the states keep their citizens’ tax dollars and control their own education agendas?

Trying to run the nation’s schools from Washington has failed. Andrew Coulson’s chart shows that federal education spending has gone through the roof while k-12 test scores have remained flat:

Kline’s press release is titled, “A Promise Made To Our Children Should Be a Promise Kept.” Right now the only promise that Washington seems intent on keeping is promising our children a mountain of government debt.

See these Cato essays for more on why we should “simply” abolish the Department of Education.

cross-posted from Cato-at-Liberty

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