Trump Proposes Merging Labor and Education Departments

Secretary of Education Betsy Devos supports the move to merge the education and labor departments even though her position may not be retained if the plan is successful.

Secretary of Education Betsy Devos supports the move to merge the education and labor departments even though her position may not be retained if the plan is successful.

By Free Radical

Following campaign promises to make the federal government leaner, President Donald Trump has suggested that the departments of labor and education coalesce into a new cabinet agency, the Department of Education and the Workforce. The plan, which was released on Thursday, would require congressional approval.

Members of the White House staff justify the move by saying it will make education more responsive to the needs of the American economy. Betsy Devos, who before becoming the current Secretary of Education, gained fame for her advocacy of privatizing schooling, recommended that “This proposal will make the federal government more responsive to the full range of needs faced by American students, workers, and schools.” Interestingly, she may not be retained if the plan is adopted.

Her message was parroted by Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina who chairs the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “The federal government is long overdue for a serious overhaul,” Foxx reasoned. “The proposed Department of Education and the Workforce is recognition of the clear relationship between education policy at every level and the needs of the growing American workforce.”

Yet Democrats question the move and suggest it is short-sighted. Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, argued that “the Department of Labor is no more equipped to oversee elementary education policy than the Department of Education is prepared to enforce standards for coal mine safety. The logic behind this proposal is painfully thin.”

Many critics echo Scott and argue that the plan is merely another attempt to strip funds from both departments which Trump and other Republicans have been critical of in the past. Rick Perry, Trump’s Secretary of Energy, infamously said in a 2011 Presidential debate that if he won he would eliminate the departments of education, commerce, and energy (though he embarrassingly forgot about energy in his speech). While on the campaign trail, Trump also said that he would consider extracting the department of education. The last concerted presidential effort to do so was led by Ronald Reagan, who ultimately conceded after receiving stiff competition from Congress.

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