American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

Update on Department of Education Elimination (6-18-97)

Most Recent Action
On June 5, 1997, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) introduced H.R. 1812, the Department of Education Elimination Act of 1997. The Act would eliminate the Department of Education on January 1, 2000 and consolidate appropriate programs into a block grant program for states to administer. It mandates that the Secretary of Education prepare a strategic plan detailing the transfer of programs that should be continued to other federal agencies and the abolishment of those programs deemed "redundant, obsolete, or otherwise unnecessary." The Secretary would also report to Congress the projected cost savings that would result from implementing the strategic plan.

H.R. 1812 has garnered the support of ten cosponsors so far. On June 5, it was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

The Department of Education is a relatively young agency. It was created by President Carter in response to the support he received from the National Education Association. According to Secretary of Education Richard Riley, the Department is extremely efficient, allocating only two percent of its budget to administrative costs in 1995.

One of the many previous attempts to abolish the Department of Education was also led by Rep. Hefley. On March 24, 1995, he introduced H.R. 1318, the Department of Education Elimination Act of 1995. This bill is identical to H.R. 1812, with the exception of an abolishment date of January 1, 1998. H.R. 1318 was referred to the House Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities where it received no further attention.

Another bill in the last Congress, H.R. 1883, aimed to "strengthen parental, local, and State control of education in the United States by eliminating the Department of Education and redefining the Federal role in education." Introduced by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), the Back to Basics Education Reform Act was intended to provide states more flexibility than that provided by the Department of Education. Education Secretary Richard Riley countered that the entire nation is at risk, not just the states, and so the Department of Education is needed to lead a national effort to improve schools.

Sources: Insight on the News

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Contributed by Stephanie Barrett, AGI Government Affairs Intern
Last updated June 18, 1997

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