"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

More Unnecessary Duplication and Expansion at DOEd

The proliferation of federal employees is like a rodent infestation problem.  You can attack one nest to eradicate them, but if you don't plug the holes where they are coming into your house, more are bound to appear and multiply.

The President embarked on a campaign to reduce waste in the federal government by eliminating duplication in federal agencies. Good news/bad news there. Less spending yes. Creation of a behemuth agency with no potential for redress also a possibility.  We've already seen how that works out over at EPA.

Education was an area found with many opportunities for cutting waste. For instance, the GAO found:
  • Thirteen agencies fund 209 different science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs - and 173 of those programs overlap with at least one other program.
  • At least 15 major financial literacy programs - including three new ones established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. 
The Administration has tried to enact efficiencies.  Last year they, along with Congress, addressed four of the GAO's 81 problem areas, and worked on 60 more, but duplication still exists.

And while they are busy getting rid of these overlapping programs, Arne Duncan is over at the DOEd coming up with new ones.  This week he and Kathleen Sebelius met with the Healthy Schools Campaign, a nonprofit group based in Chicago, and Trust for America’s Health to consider "a few small changes they believe could improve students’ academic and physical well-being and work to close achievement gaps." (Ed Week)

Among those changes are:
  • The Education Department should expand the work of the office of safe and healthy students and appoint a deputy assistant secretary to the office so it is better equipped to handle emergency situations, such as an outbreak of the H1N1 flu, and provide guidance to states, school districts, and universities.
  • The department should appoint a school nurse consultant who can share information with state school nurse consultants and promote school health services and school nursing.
Duncan is looking to expand the DOEd into the area of health, completely ignoring the fact that we have a Center For Disease control who already has plans for infectious disease outbreaks that are implemented through the already existing public health service.  A clear case of unnecessary duplicative federal programs and an equally unnecessary expansion of the role of the department of education.

Funding a consultant at the federal level to promote school nursing and school health services is an ironic twist since many schools are having to cut their nurses or share them because there isn't the funding available for them. How is it our federal government has money for stuff like this in education when our local schools do not?

Further down the list of recommendations is this beauty:
  • The department should identify best practices for training teachers about standards related to health and separate standards for integrating health into data tracking and school accountability. Health and wellness also should become part of the criteria for competitive-grant programs for teacher and principal training, parent-engagement strategies, and state longitudinal data systems.
Here is another pathway for getting your private health information into the SLDS. The fact that the government will already have access to your health information through the mandatory electronic medical record system implemented a couple years ago should make this bullet point unnecessary. Are they perhaps going after the health data that doesn't make it into that system because people aren't going to the doctor for it. The fact that it says the school will now be accountable for student health is extremely worrying. DOEd will hold out the carrot of competitive grants to get schools to stand in line to create this system. Will the teacher training include training to spot unreported health issues so they can be entered into the SLDS?  Doesn't that make your teacher also your health spy?

Additional recommendations include changing the rules to allow schools to receive Medicaid funding for all health services they provide (necessary for the expansion of the Community Schools Program).  HHS has already written, but not implemented, that rule. Then there's the National Prevention Council, led by members of President Obama’s Cabinet, who want to explore the potential roles that schools can play in supporting children’s health and wellness. Keep in mind it's just a short skip and a hop from "supporting" to "overseeing" which would make parents and their pediatrician secondary players in children's health.

The financial watchdogs need to be on capitol hill asking the question "Doesn't DOEd need to follow the administration's mission to avoid duplication of federal programs?  Where do they expect to get the money for these new positions and programs?  How do they justify an expansion of their role beyond education like this?"

All these recommendations seem to fly directly in the face of Mr. Obama's mission to reduce government duplication of effort. Someone needs to show the administration they have a hole over at the DOEd that needs to be plugged.  Perhaps Mr. Duncan and Ms. Sebelius didn't get the memo about not recreating existing programs.  Or maybe they did get the memo, just a different one.  Perhaps their memo said that they would be the foundation of the new behemuth agency for Human Development that will be responsible for all aspects of human growth, from birth to death. Somehow that doesn't make me feel any better.


  1. Governments, within governments, within governments.....
    This is so much like the huge infiltration in so MANY areas by radical leftists, that you can barely scratch the surface getting rid of them.
    Our entire government needs to be restarted!
    Trash all of it!
    Even then, there could be reinfestation.
    It may need to be done more than once, like a bug bomb for the home!

  2. Okay, to keep it simple, REMOVE ARNE DUNCAN!


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