Is the US Department of Ed. Breaking the Law?

Is the US Department of Education Breaking the law?

That’s what Jay P. Greene considers in his article, U.S. Dept. of Ed. is Breaking the Law, published at Jay P. Greene’s blog on May 13, 2011.

Jay is absolutely correct. I wonder whether any of our elected officials have the courage to hold them accountable.

Here are the details, from Jay’s article:

On October 17, 1979 the US Department of Education was authorized under public law 96-88. That law states, in section 103b, “No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or by any other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize the Secretary or any such officer to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, over any accrediting agency or association, or over the selection or content of library resources, textbooks, or other instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, except to the extent authorized by law.” (emphasis added)

So what has the US Dept of Ed done which violates the law under which it was formed?

Again, from Jay’s article,

Our criticism of the nationalization of standards, curriculum, and assessments elicited the following statement from Peter Cunningham, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education: “Just for the record: we are for high standards, not national standards and we are for a well-rounded curriculum, not a national curriculum. There is a big difference between funding development of curriculum—which is something we have always done—and mandating a national curriculum—which is something we have never done. And yes—we believe in using incentives to advance our agenda.”

So, the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education says that they are funding development of curriculum, but the Department is expressly not authorized to direct, supervise, or control curriculum.  They are are also prohibited from directing, supervising, or controlling textbooks or other instructional materials.

The Department seems to think that it is on solid footing as long as it does not mandate or control curriculum.  But the 1979 law restricts the Department more broadly.  It may not even direct or supervise curriculum.  I have no idea how the Department could fund the development of curriculum without also exercising some direction and supervision over that curriculum.

Nor can the Department justify its current activities by claiming that they are only funding the development of curricular frameworks and instructional materials.  The Department is also explicitly prohibited from directing, supervising, or controlling the content of instructional materials.

As far as I know, no law has specifically authorized the Department to engage in these activities from which they are otherwise prohibited.

I think they have been caught red-handed.

I agree. Courage, and a willingness to demand that entrenched federal bureaucracies follow the law appears to be in short supply in this country right now. Below is the contact information for our Senators and Congressmen. Feel free to forward this article to them and ask whether they’ll demand that the US Dept of Ed follow the law.

House Committee on Education and Workforce
Congressman Gerry Connolly
Congressman Robert J. Wittman
Congressman Frank Wolfe
Senator James Webb
Senator Mark Warner

{Special thanks to Elizabeth Carson and the American Math Forum for bringing Jay’s article to our attention}

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One Response to “Is the US Department of Ed. Breaking the Law?”

  1. Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr. Says:

    This piece below from Diane Ravitch fits nicely with this Discussion of: WHO gets to drive the nation and is the constitution still used in this pseudo-republic?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/five-year-olds-get-ipads-hurray/2011/04/30/AF1Jw0gF_blog.html?fb_ref=NetworkNews

    Perhaps it was the agreement between the Gates Foundation and the Pearson Foundation to write the nation’s curriculum. When did we vote to hand over American education to them? Why would we outsource the nation’s curriculum to a for-profit publishing and test-making corporation based in London? Does Bill Gates get to write the national curriculum because he is the richest man in America?

    We know that his foundation is investing heavily in promoting the Common Core standards. Now his foundation will write a K-12 curriculum that will promote online learning and video gaming. That’s good for the tech sector, but is it good for our nation’s schools?


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