Trump Should Abolish the Department of Education

As with many things, Donald Trump’s position on education policy is less than entirely clear. On the other hand, President Obama is not only intent on using the Department of Education to politically indoctrinate future generations, but as a tool to transform American social mores, morality, and values, most especially through recent directives requiring public schools receiving federal funds (which is all of them) to allow transgender students to use whatever bathroom they desire at the moment. These federal directives, along with nearly identical moves requiring coverage for transsexual reassignment under the Affordable Care Act represent an opportunity for Trump.  Trump has an official position calling for repeal of ObamaCare (despite flirting with national healthcare at other points in his career) but not on education.  In the wake of Obama’s moves, he should officially call for the abolition of the Department of Education, which would reinforce his populist message, while at the same time giving conservatives some reassurance that he can pursue a principled and detailed strategy to promote limited government.  

Ronald Reagan campaigned promising to abolish the Department of Education, but backed down in 1985 citing insufficient congressional support. Since then, the department has followed an unwavering course, removing control of education policy from state and local governments and adding it to the already massively powerful federal regulatory state.  Both Democrat and Republican administrations have used the Education Department to aggrandize federal power, and to increasingly diminish the tradition of local control of education.  This has resulted in at best inconsistent and incoherent policies, and at worst expensive and literally disastrous programs.

In the wake of Obama’s authoritarian use of the Department of Education to force the country into new and controversial social norms, Trump ought to imitate Reagan and explicitly come out for ending that bureaucracy. If he is elected, he should do Reagan one better and follow through. 

In past statements Trump’s made on the topic he has come out against Common Core and in favor of “cutting” the Department of Education to an unspecified degree. Trump can redeem Reagan’s error and by implication inherit a bit of that president’s conservative bona fides by calling now for the dismantling of the department. That would encourage conservatives, and even probably win Trump some quiet support among a group of people aggrieved by federal intervention, but generally afraid to say so -- teachers. While teacher unions will never support Trump, and you might be hard pressed to find a single teacher at a public school openly supporting the candidate, not a few would privately cheer the elimination of the entity that has largely forced trendy, ever changing policies on the schools, increased testing to senseless levels, and imposed draconian and secretive ratings systems. Who knows what lever they might pull in the privacy of the voting booth?

Trump’s position on the “bathroom issue” as it relates to self-described transgender people has been tolerant, as might be expected from a real estate mogul with prime properties in Manhattan, San Francisco, and the like, and given Trump’s generalized liberalism on social and economic issues. With respect to transsexuals in bathrooms he appears to share an outlook similar to that of his frequent conservative critic Charles Krauthammer, who viewed North Carolina “bathroom law” as a “solution in search of an issue” and a mistake for Republicans politically.

That might have been a reasonable view until the Obama’s administration’s actions regarding schools and coverage of transsexuals under the Affordable Care Act. It is clear that Obama’s moves are not merely political opportunism, but a well-planned and previously prepared attack on state’s rights, part of the administration’s long-game of maximally aggrandizing and expanding federal power, as well as satisfying Obama’s (and his party’s) biases against those bitter Americans who still cling to guns and religion. Federal directives on transgender “rights” were well in the works before North Carolina passed its bathroom legislation. One way or another, Obama was intent once again on imposing his will on the states and the people, regardless of his Constitutional obligations.  

While the liberal media is playing to form championing the administration’s actions, popular support for these initiatives is much thinner than the pro-Obama press makes it seem.  Pushing the transgender agenda in the schools is elitist, and not in keeping with the values of much of Obama’s core constituencies in the black and Hispanic communities. While Obama doesn’t have to worry about this in November, Hillary Clinton does. Trump doesn’t need blacks and Hispanics to defect to him, just lose motivation to vote. Traditional churchgoing blacks turned out for Obama despite a radically liberal social agenda because of racial solidarity that won’t be there for Hillary.  And the American public in general, already unhappy with ObamaCare, will not be further soothed by the prospect of deductibles and premiums rising in order to pay for some guy’s idea that he is really a gal, unless he reconsiders and decides he’s a guy again. 

The bottom line is that the American public is not warming to Obama’s progressive offensive which deliberately confuses a radical leftist LGBT agenda with the rhetoric of civil rights. Polls out before the Department of Education’s school edict demonstrate a dramatic decline in support for transgender bathroom use. If this unscientific online poll from liberal New Jersey is any indicator, Obama’s schools policy is very unpopular. For a candidate like Trump with a populist bent and program, it is kind of a no-brainer. 

Trump is presumably a sexual libertine, but this is not about sex as such. It’s about the government invading the most delicate of personal situations, dictating who is in the bathroom with your 12-year-old daughter, and who she showers with at school. Nor is it a civil rights issue. This is not a case of alleviating overt discriminatory practices against a recognized racial community that makes up a substantial portion of the populace. It is about granting extraordinary privileges to a self-selected “personal identity” sub-group that likely makes up well under 1% of the population. And the purpose of privileging that sub-group is to demonstrate and expand government power, thus to cow the people into submission, so that more serious restrictions on personal liberty can follow. 

Trump ought to put out a formal position on education policy that includes a promise to abolish the Department of Education. Along with his already stated policy to support the repeal of Obamacare, this would firm up wavering conservatives, prove popular among swing voters and even many Democrats, and be in keeping with Trump’s populist message.

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