Education

Quayle Bill To Dissolve Education Department Differs From Proposal Made by Secretary Bell

By Eileen White — November 09, 1981 3 min read
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The Education Department would be stripped of its Cabinet-level status and most of its functions, and be reduced to a small education-assistance agency under a bill scheduled to be introduced in the Senate late last week by Dan Quayle, Republican of Indiana.

The Senator planned to announce the bill’s provisions--including the transfer of most department programs to other federal agencies--at a press conference on Friday, according to an aide in Senator Quayle’s office.

In a letter informing other Senators of his intentions, Mr. Quayle called the abolition of the Education Department “a major step forward in returning the responsibility and resources necessary to educate our children where they properly belong--in the local community.”

His proposal asserts that:

“Parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children";

“The primary public responsibility for education belongs to the states [and] the local school systems"; and

“A cabinet-level Department of Education threatens to pre-empt the role of parents, localities, and the states in determining policy for education.”

The measure has not received the support of the Reagan Administration, although Mr. Quayle has met with members of the Administration task force that is formulating the President’s plan to dismantle the department, according to James Wolfe, a legislative assistant to the Senator.

Mr. Quayle also has discussed his proposal with Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell, who was unwilling to support the bill, Mr. Wolfe said.

Mr. Bell was unavailable for comment.

The bill would create a much smaller agency than the “national education foundation” recommended by Secretary Bell to the President last August. At that time, Secretary Bell listed education research and statistics-gathering as two of the most important functions of a federal education foundation.

Mr. Quayle would transfer the offices that perform those functions to other agencies.

Changes Recommended

However, the Education Department’s office for civil rights, for which the Secretary had recommended sweeping changes--including a possible transfer to the Justice Department--would remain unchanged in the agency proposed by Mr. Quayle.

The governance structure of the assistance agency also differs from the Secretary’s proposal.

The Secretary had suggested a foundation governed by a board of directors, like the 24-member governing board of the National Science Foundation. Mr. Quayle’s proposal includes a single director and two assistant directors.

The proposal would retain in the education-assistance agency most programs in primary, secondary, and higher education. Bilingual education, vocational and adult education, the education-consolidation package, impact aid, and Indian education are among those programs.

Proposal Programs

Programs to be transferred under the proposal include:

  • Handicapped education and rehabilitative services, library services, and most of the department’s support to special institutions, to the Department of Health and Human Services;
  • The National Center for Education Statistics and telecommunications programs, to the Commerce Department;
  • The guaranteed student-loan program, to the Treasury Department;
  • Foreign-language programs, to the State Department;
  • The National Institute of Education, to the National Science Foundation;
  • Museum services, to the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities;
  • Veterans cost-of-instruction programs, to the Veterans’ Administration;
  • College housing-construction loans, to the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
  • Surplus property for educational purposes, to the General Services Administration, and
  • The federal data-acquisition council to the Office of Management and Budget.

A version of this article appeared in the November 09, 1981 edition of Education Week as Quayle Bill To Dissolve Education Department Differs From Proposal Made by Secretary Bell

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