The United States Without the Dept. of Education
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos addresses Education Department staff, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, at the Education Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
The same day that Betsy DeVos was sworn in to be the next Secretary of Education, a representative from Kentucky named Thomas Massie introduced H.R. 899, a federal bill that would work towards abolishing the Department of Education by Dec. 31, 2018.
Rep. Massie has been in Congress representing District 4 in Kentucky since 2012. H.R. 899 was first introduced to the House of Representatives on Feb. 7, 2017. It has since been sent off to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
“Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students. Schools should be accountable. Parents have the right to choose the most appropriate educational opportunity for their children, including home school, public school or private school,” Rep. Massie said on the day of DeVos’s confirmation.
At the University of Central Oklahoma, a member from the UCO’s Student Association wrote a resolution to ask the Oklahoma representatives and senators to vote against Rep. Massie’s bill if it ever made it to their floors.
Caleb Power serves as the interim chair of the Election Commission, ART chair and parliamentarian. He authored this resolution on Feb. 15, 2017 and sent it out to start the committee process in the Public Relations Committee of the UCO Student Congress.
“I wrote it because I believe the student body here would be directly affected by the loss of the Department of Education. I wanted to make sure our voices were heard and also wanted to make sure that the student knew this was happening,” Power said.
The resolution highlights several key points for students that the U.S. Department of Education “facilitates federal grants and loans that students at the University of Central Oklahoma directly benefit from.”
“They host a website that their research has yielded. Basically they have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets that show the number of students that have benefited from particular projects, such as the loan program,” Power said.
The data shows how many students receive the Pell Grant or actual loans. The department has yet to publish the December 2016 data on their website. The resolution pulls information from the U.S. Department of Education’s website that says the department collects data on areas such as college costs, safety and bullying, special education and student demographics, as well as oversees research. This data and research is then shared with Congress, educators and the general public.
“It is possible and, from a personal stand point, that they [the Oklahoma legislators] are voting along party lines instead of simply regarding an issue,” Power said. “Unfortunately many people in that political side of the spectrum tend to scrap entire projects instead of fixing on specific issues.”
If the resolution passes in the UCOSA Congress and the vice chair, an official will send the piece of legislation to other colleges around the state. The resolution ends by asking other higher education institutions in the state to take a stand against H.R. 899.