Joe Chiang, a candidate for North Dakota’s next superintendent of public instruction, signed a pledge last week to get rid of the U.S. Department of Education.
According to the Bismark Tribune, Chiang, a math teacher, said he signed the pledge more as “a matter of the spirit of what they’re trying to do than what I would be able to do in the office.”
Such an action would take an act of congress.
The pledge, devised by the U.S. Parents Involved in Education group, a states’ rights activist group, says that those who sign will “reject all federal mandates tied to federal funding,” and “fight against federally mandated curriculum, standardized tests, and all illegal and unconstitutional mandates from the federal Department of Education.”
Getting rid of the federal department would curtail many of the duties of a state education department. The majority of state departments’ jobs involve overseeing and disbursing federal funds. After the drastic cuts during the recession, many state departments had become more reliant on federal funds.
Chiang is facing incumbent Kirsten Baesler for the superintendent position in the nonpartisan contest. Baesler responded to local media that she has pushed back against dictates from the federal department while applying for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act.
North Dakota is facing a teacher and local superintendent shortage and will likely have to make cuts to its education budget next year due to the dip in oil prices.
Other people who have signed the pledge, according to the group’s website, include Lee Bright, a South Carolina state senator who sponsored the bill in that state to toss the state’s adopted common-core standards, and Nikki Snyder and Tom McMillin, both of whom are running for Michigan’s board of education.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.