***See update below***
The White House plans to propose today merging the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
A source within the Trump Administration with knowledge of the proposal told the Wall Street Journal that the plan is the result of a review of Cabinet agencies ordered by the President to look for ways to shrink the federal government.
This proposal would require Congressional approval since an act of Congress established both departments.
I have mixed feelings about this:
- This proposal will not end federal involvement in education; it will just move the responsibilities and oversight to a new department. So, unfortunately, it will not diminish their influence.
- The merger of the Education and Labor Departments will further institutionalize the workforce development model of education. This idea is what led to the testing and accountability reforms, Common Core, a hyper-focus on STEM, and corporate influence in K-12 education.
- There are data privacy concerns as far too much student data has been shared with the U.S. Department of Labor as they have been funding state databases to link workforce data with education data. This merger, I’m afraid, will advance preK-workforce tracking.
- On the flip side, since I favor limited government, reducing the bureaucracy is welcome, I would rather see the U.S. Department of Education eliminated. The Department of Justice can address civil rights abuses in schools. The Department of the Treasury can disburse Title I funding to states, preferably in the form of block grants or, better still, eliminate federal funding. Federal funding is a small piece of the education funding pie but drives many of the regulations.
I don’t want to discourage government reorganization or finding ways to reduce the size of the bureaucracy in DC, but the Trump administration does have to consider the implications of certain mergers. I hope that they would go big and eliminate an unconstitutional department.
Update: It’s official. The plan is to merge the two departments and create a “Department of Education and the Workforce.” You can read the details below.