It’s two, two, two departments in one. Maybe. It’s
unclear if the Trump administration’s proposal to
merge the U. S. Departments of Labor and Education
will actually happen. If it does, it won’t occur overnight as it would require approval from Congress.
President Donald Trump in June announced
the plan, crafted by the Office of Management and
Budget, to merge overlapping, duplicative offices and
programs and eliminate those the administration
sees as unnecessary. Merging Labor and Education is
one of about 30 changes included in the plan.
The new Department of Education and the Workforce
(DEW) would be charged with “meeting the end-to-end needs of American workers and students, from
education and skill development to workplace protection to retirement security, to ensure access to the
full range of coordinated resources Americans need
to succeed in the 21st Century economy,” according to
Four sub-agencies in the department would focus
on K- 12, higher education/workforce development,
enforcement and research/evaluation/administration.
The higher education/workforce development
group— named the American Workforce and
Higher Education Administration (AWHEA)—
would focus on higher education, disability
employment, adult workforce development, youth
workforce development and veterans’ employ-
ment. A presidentially appointed official would
head each area.
AWHEA would ensure that workers have the
skills to succeed in the workforce. It would bring
together current Labor Department workforce
development programs and Education Department
(ED) vocational education, rehabilitation and higher
education programs. Overlapping workforce devel-
opment funding streams would get consolidated.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a statement
applauded the proposal, saying the merger “will make
the federal government more responsive to the full
range of needs faced by American students, workers
LOCAL CONTROL OF EDUCATION
Republicans have for some time wanted to eliminate ED. The department, which began operating in
1980, is one of the lowest-spending federal agencies,
but it’s not just the cost that’s an issue for the department’s detractors. They say it’s about state or local
control vs. national control of education.
Most recently, in 2017, Rep. Thomas Massie
(R-K Y) introduced H.R. 899, a one-sentence bill:
“The Department of Education shall terminate on
Massie’s reasoning? “Unelected bureaucrats in
Washington, D.C., should not be in charge of our
children’s intellectual and moral development.
States and local communities are best positioned
to shape curricula that meet the needs of their stu-
dents,” he said.
The bill didn’t pass, and this new merger plan
faces a similar uphill battle. However, it has the
backing of several high-ranking Republicans,
including Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the
House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
A long road ahead for
possible merger of ED
By AACC Staff