Jordan Candler / June 21, 2018

Trump Eyes Education-Labor Department Merger

Being two sides of the same coin, unification could lead to significant reforms.

Is a marriage between the Departments of Education and Labor in the offing? The odds are stacked against it, but the Trump administration is at least putting it on the table. The idea isn’t novel. The Washington Post reports, “In 1995, the House introduced legislation to merge the agencies to put K-12 schools and job training together, but the measure failed.” However, if anyone has the determination to make things happen, it’s Donald Trump.

The proposal is salient, mainly because our education system has long emphasized irrelevant — or worse — subject matter. This is the crucial reason behind the considerable skills gap that has emerged among today’s up-and-coming workforce. In 2015, CBS News reported on the results of a disturbing study:

Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. … The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries. … American Millennials also scored poorly on problem-solving in technology-rich environments… In that test, 56 percent of American Millennials failed to meet basic proficiency, again ranking them last among the 22 countries.

But as the Post notes, “The plan to consolidate the Labor and Education departments … would allow the Trump administration to focus its efforts to train students in vocational skills in one place.” In a sense, the Departments of Education and Labor are really two sides of the same coin. Imagine the incredible progress that could be made if significant reforms are made as a single unit.

That said, there are other elements that need to be addressed if a merger is to truly change the landscape. As Neal McCluskey points out in the Washington Examiner, “The good news, were a merger to occur, would be that education would become just a part of a bigger Cabinet-level agency, lowering its profile in the federal bureaucracy.” However, “Unless a whole lot of programs are eliminated — inflation and waste-fueling college student aid programs, micromanagement-driving federal funding for K-12 education — most of the unconstitutional, expensive problems will continue.”

As stated above, Trump has the determination to make things happen. Unfortunately, Congress doesn’t, and a merger would be contingent on Congress’s blessing. And given how callously Democrats perpetually treat children as pawns, this marriage may remain a pipe dream.

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