The federal Department of Education was originally intended to coordinate the various educational missions of other departments. Its budget and staff were limited and its mission was narrow. Today, the Department of Education is vastly expanded and its mandates reach into state education departments and local level school districts. Federal attempts to control the educational process have included an endless stream of new policies, such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, but with few results to show for the funding invested. Schools and school districts are diverse in terms of their composition, location, financial resources, and community challenges. It is unrealistic to believe that politicians in Washington can develop an educational policy that fits all situations. Education can be more effectively implemented when it is controlled at the local and state level, with federal oversight.
The federal Department of Education should be returned to a limited scope and focus specifically on policy and law that ensures equal educational access for all of America's students. Laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Title IX have created significant improvements in educational achievement and access to resources for many historically marginalized Americans. Such policies should continue to be strengthened and refined. In addition, the federal government can support states and local districts in promoting and expanding access to vocational-technical (Vo-Tech) and apprenticeship programs, as well as fostering collaboration and exchange of ideas among states and local school districts across the country.