President Donald Trump has issued a new executive order demanding a review of federal overreach in education. And depending on who you listen to, the new decree either does nothing, or it will fix much of America’s education disaster in one fell swoop. The truth is probably somewhere in between.
On the bright side, the new order, signed on April 26, lays out the Trump administration’s official policy on education: to “protect and preserve State and local control over” America’s K-12 schools. Of course, constitutionally speaking, that should have been the policy all along. But for decades, “Fed Ed” has reigned supreme in education.
In signing the order, President Trump also sounded a lot like candidate Trump. “Previous administrations have wrongfully forced states and schools to comply with federal whims and dictate what our kids are taught,” said Trump, who has threatened to kill Common Core and shut down the U.S. Department of Education. “But we know that local communities do it best and know it best.” He is absolutely right, of course.
Unfortunately, though, a lot depends on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The order makes her responsible for reviewing the mountains of regulations, decrees, guidance, orders, documents and other policy instruments issued by the Department of Education. She has 300 days for the job. If any of the regulations are found to be in violation of federal statutes, DeVos is instructed to rescind or amend them.
Most recently, establishment GOP leaders in Congress teamed up with the Obama administration and Democrats to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This monstrosity of a “law,” even according to then-U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, purports to authorize all of the unconstitutional federal control over education imaginable.
“If you look at the substance of what is there … embedded in the law are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever,” Duncan said about ESSA, which his boss referred to as a “Christmas miracle” when he signed it.“The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there — early childhood [“education”], high standards [Common Core], not turning a blind eye when things are bad. For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.”
In other words, unconstitutional federal “laws” already purport to authorize much of the federal overreach in education, raging from Common Core and data collection to United Nations-backed perversion and indoctrination in the classroom. So making sure that all Education Department regulations are in compliance with “federal law” does not help the situation much.
In short, far from going away, Common Core remains as deeply entrenched in the United Trump may well be sincere in his efforts, but if Americans want to get rid of Fed Ed and restore real education, this order and existing “federal law” are not going to be even close to sufficient. The standard must always be the Constitution. And since the Constitution authorizes no federal role in education, Americans should push to shut down the whole unconstitutional department and all of its unconstitutional programs.