Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) released a “budget” outlining $500 billion in spending cuts that he believes can be implemented next year. Among the cuts is eliminating the entire Department of Education, except for the Pell Grant program, as Paul feels that “the mere existence of the Department of Education is an overreach of power by the federal government.”
So, naturally, Senate Republicans have seen fit to appoint Paul to the Senate Education Committee:
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., aka Mr. Let’s-Ditch-the-Department-of-Education, got a seat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Paul is also a member of the Senate’s new tea party caucus.
The federal government only accounts for about nine percent of overall education spending in the country, but plays a number of important roles, including providing funding to high poverty districts. For instance, in Paul’s home state of Kentucky, 9 percent of students attending the Beechwood Independent School District are low-income, and the school receives just 4 percent of its funding from the federal level. However, 85 percent of the students at the Jackson County School District are low-income, and that district depends on the federal government for nearly one-fifth of its funding.
Paul is also quite ignorant when it comes to what the Department of Education actually does. “The Department of Education has increasingly meddled with the more traditional idea of education being tailored to the needs and requirement of communities and states,” Paul stated, even though, as Igor Volsky noted, “there is a legislative prohibition on the federal government getting involved with local curriculum.” This reality hasn’t stopped Paul from fearmongering about “somebody in Washington deciding that Susie has two mommies is an appropriate family situation and should be taught to my kindergartner at school.”
In a bit of a double-whammy, the same Senate committee that oversees education also deals with workplace safety regulations, which Paul does not believe should ever be allowed to exist. In fact, Paul has said that mine safety regulations are unnecessary because “no one will apply” for jobs at unsafe mines. “The bottom line is: I’m not an expert, so don’t give me the power in Washington to be making rules,” Paul has said with regard to workplace safety.