In the lead-up to April 5th’s Wisconsin presidential primary, CNN’s Anderson Cooper hosted a town hall-style forum where each presidential candidate took questions from the audience on important policy issues, including defense, education, and healthcare.
One exchange in CNN’s town hall included brief but confusing remarks by businessman Donald Trump on the federal government’s role in education:
(You can read the full transcript here.)
QUESTION: In your opinion, what are the top three functions of the United States government?
Trump: Well, the greatest function of all by far is security for our nation. I would also say health care, I would also say education….
Cooper: So in terms of federal government role, you’re saying security, but you also say health care and education should be provided by the federal government?
Trump: Well, those are two of the things. Yes, sure. I mean, there are obviously many things, housing, providing great neighborhoods…
Cooper: Aren’t you against the federal government’s involvement in education? Don’t you want it to devolve to states?
Trump: I want it to go to states, yes. Absolutely. I want – right now…
Cooper: So that’s not part of what the federal government’s…
Trump: The federal government, but the concept of the country is the concept that we have to have education within the country, and we have to get rid of common core and it should be brought to the state level.
Donald Trump’s comments on the federal role in education are confusing. Not only do they directly contradict his avowed position of ending the federal role in Common Core, but they also show a fundamental misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution’s grant of limited power to the federal government—especially the limitations imposed by the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which state that all powers not expressly granted to the federal government remain with the states and the people.
The Constitution provides for a limited federal government, one that does not interfere with the day-to-day lives of citizens. Not only is the U.S. Department of Education NOT expressly provided for in our Constitution, but it takes over a job that historically (and, as HSLDA believes, constitutionally) has been held by state and local governments.
Making education one of the top three priorities for the federal government is a huge mistake. It will lead to a continuation of the massive growth in federal involvement and control in education. As the federal role in education grows, programs like the Common Core Sate Standards and Race to the Top will continue to threaten the freedom of families, and ultimately the educational freedom of homeschoolers.
Moreover, the U.S. Department of Education does not show any signs of shrinking anytime soon. Be it longitudinal data collection programs, universal early education programs, or national standards, federal involvement in education will do nothing but grow unless educational responsibility is given back to the states.
Education—particularly homeschooling—works best when decision-making is left to the primary interest-holders in the future of children: their parents and families. Expanding and continuing the federal role in education is likely to do nothing but add burdensome regulations to homeschools and remove educational responsibility from parents and from state and local governments.
As this elections season moves on, HSLDA will continue to track the position of each presidential candidate on issues that matter to homeschoolers. You can read more of our articles on the 2016 race here.