Real estate mogul Donald Trump told The Wall Street Journal that he would administer massive cuts to the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency.
"Education should be local and locally managed," said Trump. "The Environmental Protection Agency is the laughing stock of the world."
The current Republican frontrunner is accurate on both accounts. The Daily Wire has reported on the EPA's de-growth agenda and its latest scandal, both of which are clear evidence that the EPA needs to be dismantled. States have their own EPA, and abolishing the agency would save at least $8 billion a year. There's no need for a federal EPA.
"The Environmental Protection Agency is the laughing stock of the world."
Likewise, the creation of the Department of Education–which was a payoff from then-President Jimmy Carter to the teachers unions for endorsing him in 1976–and federalizing education has not resulted in improved education for the country. In fact, the state of education in the country is not particularly encouraging.
In 2015, the Department of Education spent over $87 billion. American Enterprise Institute director of education policy studies Frederick Hess and research assistant Jenn Hatfield described the National Assessment of Educational Progress's 2015 results as "dismal:"
Eighth-grade reading and math scores fell, as did fourth-grade math scores. Fourth-grade reading scores stayed flat — the closest thing to a bright spot one could find. In 22 states, eighth-graders did worse on the math test than they did in 2013; no state saw its score improve. In eighth-grade reading, scores were down in eight states and up in one. Overall, just 36 percent of fourth-graders and 34 percent of eighth-graders were deemed proficient in reading. In math, the figures were 40 percent of fourth-graders and 33 percent of eighth-graders.
The authors continued, "Never before had fourth-grade math scores declined. Eighth-grade reading scores hadn’t fallen since 1996. Fourth-grade reading scores haven’t dipped since 2003, or eighth-grade reading since 2005. In other words, the widespread carnage on display this year is wholly unprecedented."
This has been the trend in education for decades. National Review's Mona Charen writes:
Between 1973 and 2004, a period in which federal spending on education more than quadrupled, mathematics scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress rose just 1 percent for American 17-year-olds. Between 1971 and 2004, reading scores remained completely flat.
Comparing educational achievement with per-pupil spending among states also calls into question the value of increasing expenditures. While high-spending Massachusetts had the nation’s highest proficiency scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, low-spending Idaho did very well, too. South Dakota ranks 42nd in per-pupil expenditures but eighth in math performance and ninth in reading. The District of Columbia, meanwhile, with the nation’s highest per-pupil expenditures ($15,511 in 2007), scores dead last in achievement.
In other words, spending more money on education has not produced better results.
Radio host and constitutional scholar Mark Levin provides more sobering statistics that across the board show the decrepit state of the country's education in his bestseller Plunder and Deceit. These statistics include:
- U.S. fifteen-year-olds scored below average in math, science and reading among OECD nations, according to the Program for International Student Assessment. This is despite the fact that Luxembourg and Norway are the only two OECD nations that spent more per student on education than the U.S.
- Only 43 percent of students who took the SAT in 2013 were deemed as "college-ready."
- 2013 was the fifth straight year where less than half of those taking the SAT scored above 1550, which is "the threshold for demonstrating the capability to maintain a grade point average (GPA) of B-minus or better in a four-year degree college or university."
- Only 26 percent of U.S. 12th graders are skilled in math and only 38 percent are skilled in reading, according to the 2013 NAEP report.
- 66 percent of all applicants to the Armed Services Vocational Battery "fail to meet the minimal educational standards on the tests."
Levin also cites a study by Andrew Coulson, director of Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom, which determined that SAT scores over the past 40 years have declined by an average of 3 percent, similar to trends observed by the NAEP.
"Consistent with those patterns, there has been essentially no correlation between what states have spent on education and their measured academic outcomes," Coulson writes.
Overall, the numbers clearly paint a picture of an educational system that is failing to effectively prepare students for college and the real world. Trump is correct to plan for substantially reducing funding for the Department of Education, as education is an issue for state and local governments. Let them experiment with education instead of the federal government's one-size-fits-all bureaucratic nightmare for education. Given the nearly $19 trillion in fiscal operating debt and $210 trillion in unfunded liabilities, Trump is right to give the axe to the Department of Education and EPA.