Rep. Thomas Massie tries to abolish Department of Education with one sentence bill

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has introduced a bill to abolish the federal Department of Education.

Massie's legislation contained just one sentence: "The Department off Education shall terminate on December 31, 2022."

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced a bill to abolish the federal Department of Education, effective at the end of 2022. House Resolution 899 contains only one sentence:

“The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2022.”

Co-sponsors of the bill are all Republicans. 

They are Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).

The growth of the Department of Education has corresponded with an exponential rise in college costs, according to data from the College Board. When the department began operations in May 1980, the average cost of annual tuition and fees at a public four-year institution was $2,510 (in 2020 dollars). This academic year, the average tuition and fees at the same types of institutions is $10,560. Private four-year colleges cost the average student $11,340 in 1980, adjusted for today’s inflation. That same average cost today is $37,650. 

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But the value of a Bachelor’s degree has not kept pace with the exponential growth of college costs. The National Association of Colleges and Employers compared average starting salaries of new graduates who hold Bachelor’s degrees in common fields of study. In 1980, a new graduate with a Bachelor’s degree earned an average salary of $51,047 (in 2016 dollars). In 2015, the last year for which data is available, the average new Bachelor’s degree graduate from those same fields of study earned $50,219 (also in 2016 dollars). Although federal student loan mandatory payments are currently suspended due to the pandemic, roughly 1 out of every 5 Federal Student Aid borrowers were in default prior to the coronavirus national emergency. 

From 2010-2019, the last year for which data is available, Congress appropriated between $39.8 billion and $115.4 billion annually to the Department of Education. The benefits of that investment are in question, however. 

Scores on the Nation’s Report Card in reading and math for K-12 students have remained virtually unchanged since the early 1970s, according to the National Center for Education Statistics

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Beginning in 2017, Rep. Massie has annually introduced a bill to end the Department of Education. In 2018, then-President Trump proposed merging the Department of Education and the Department of Labor into one agency to be called the Department of Education and the Workforce.

Massie’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito