Perry Flip-Flops Back, Again Wants To Abolish Education Department

In his book Fed Up!, 2012 GOP presidential contender Rick Perry wrote that the government has no role in education, a position he has proudly touted on the campaign trail. “I don’t think the federal government has a role in your children’s education,” he said at an event in August. “I know there’s probably a few of you in here who have not read my book ‘Fed Up.’ But I talk about the intrusion into our lives by the federal government in a host of different areas. Education is one of them.”

However, when he released his tax and budget plan in October, Perry has abandoned his desire to eliminate the Education Department, merely calling for cutting its funding in half. But in a new plan that he released yesterday that is meant to “uproot and overhaul Washington,” Perry is back to his old tricks:

Work with Congress to dismantle, reform, and restructure wasteful, overbearing, and redundant federal agencies: The Department of Commerce, Department of Education and the Department of Energy would be completely eliminated. Essential duties – such as DoE’s Nuclear Security Administration, would be transferred to other agencies.

Perry doesn’t lay out what he thinks would be an “essential duty” of the Education Department, but he could start with student loans, Title I education funding for low-income students, federal special needs funding, and the Teacher Incentive Fund. And of course, while saying you’ll eliminate entire departments sounds nice on the campaign trail, actually getting it done, as Joy Resmovits explained, is much more difficult and could have disastrous consequences:

Practically speaking, turning federal education funding into block grants would demand the overturning of court decisions that require nondiscriminatory protections for disadvantaged groups. Most importantly, the idea of leaving states entirely to their own devices makes both liberal and conservative education experts worry that poor, special education and minority students would be underserved by public schools even more than they already are.

Given his past history, it’s likely only a matter of time before Perry switches to some other position, but the truth of the matter is that promising to abolish the Education Department is pandering to the conservative base while paying no attention to the practical implications of such a move. (HT: Alyson Klein)