Education is one of the most important factors in determining whether or not a child becomes successful. But the federal Department of Education has utterly failed to provide our children the opportunities to thrive. Since the Department of Education was created in 1979, government spending on education has skyrocketed, while the quality of education has declined.
For every eleven cents that the federal government gives to the states for schools, it costs them fifteen cents to comply with the strings that come attached. The states actually lose money by getting money from the federal government.
The needs of students differ greatly, whether in rural Appalachia, urban New York, suburban Oregon, small Deep South towns, or anywhere in between. One-size-fits-all federal government solutions are never going to work.
Over 60 years since Brown v. Board of Education, schools remain overwhelmingly segregated. More than half of the nation’s schoolchildren are in districts where over 75 percent of students are either white or nonwhite.
Unless those families are privileged enough to pay for private school or to move to a better district, they are forced to compromise on their children’s education.
The scene that results in many neighborhoods of color is hundreds of families entering themselves into a lottery; anxiously waiting in a community center, hoping that their number is pulled out from a bingo machine so that their child can get the education they deserve.
This is not an America we should accept.
The current pandemic has shown just how much better alternative schooling options can be. While public schools have been scrambling to find answers, their education competitors have experimented and advanced solutions that work for the individual.
I want an education marketplace that provides parents of all backgrounds the opportunity to choose from among cyberschools, parochial schools, private schools, homeschooling, or any other option, to decide which is best for their children’s futures. A zip code should not trap a family in an inescapable cycle of poverty.
The national failures on education do not end there. When it comes to higher education, the federal government is singularly responsible for the student loan debt crisis that has hobbled an entire generation.
In any other industry, such a loan program would be considered predatory.
The federal government spends billions of dollars and colludes with wealthy colleges to guarantee that aspiring students will pay any price. Unsurprisingly, the universities respond by raising costs every year. In the last forty years, college tuition and fees have gone up at three times the rate of inflation.
Meanwhile, millions of young Americans who yearn only to advance their lives and pursue careers are left to foot the exorbitant bill for overpriced classes, textbooks, and administrator salaries.
But the products they are being sold have become of less and less value, as diplomas have become of more importance than the actual educations those documents are supposed to represent.
Students used to be able to work their way through college and graduate debt-free. But today, they too often finish higher education unemployed and further behind than where they started. Student loans now make up the largest chunk of U.S. non-housing debt.
The federal government needs to get out of the student loan business entirely, and stop enabling the debt-enslavement of young people. In doing so, colleges will be forced to provide affordable programs that actually provide the value which they promise to deliver.
No plan can be taken seriously if it does not address those who have already been victimized. I will work with Congress to immediately ensure that student debt, like any other kind of debt, can be renegotiated in bankruptcy.
In addition, we should get the government out of the business of pushing young Americans into college if they don’t feel that is the best means for them to advance their lives. We should allow for technical schools, trade schools, apprenticeships, and other forms of education to be put on an even playing field, as they can prepare students for good jobs just as effectively as traditional higher education.
At every turn, government has failed young people, but no more than in education. As President, I will work to end the Department of Education and encourage states to eliminate regulations that stifle innovation in education, including state-mandated textbooks, curricula and testing; minimum numbers of days or hours teaching; and teacher certification. This will return control of education to where it belongs – with parents, teachers, and students.