Column | It's time we abolish the U.S Department of Education

A few months ago in this space, I wrote an article outlining my feelings regarding the U.S. Department of Education. I stated there was no use for it, because this bloated department of non-educators has wasted tax dollars and ruined millions of children’s lives over the past four decades.

I also noted the country’s new secretary of education is John King Jr., the man who oversaw New York State’s disastrous rollout of the Common Core State Standards and the NY Regents Reform Agenda.

His presence at the head of the department only makes my claim that much stronger.

The U.S. Department of Education was formed in 1980 by combining offices from several federal agencies. It now has 4,400 employees and a $68 billion budget.

I’ve asked the question, “When was the last time this institution actually produced something positive for our children?” many times over the past several years. I am still waiting to find an answer.

According to the Department of Education’s website, its mission is to “promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” That is impossible with John King Jr. at the helm.

The Department of Education has churned out one bad policy after another, policies that have been wreaking havoc on our public schools. This department has left a wake of children who have been tested to death. It has also degraded educators by reducing them to numbers.

Mr. King and his office focus on the wrong question. They ask, “How intelligent are you?” instead of “How are you intelligent?”

This is why I recently wrote a letter to Mr. King, asking that we meet. My hope is to engage in a civic conversation regarding how we can address the needs of the whole child, not just how smart they may be in ELA and Math. 

Here (below) is my letter to Mr. King. I am hopeful for a reply but realize it’s a long shot. But you never know until you try.

For the sake of the children in Patchogue-Medford and the rest of our kids in New York State and around our nation, Mr. King needs to listen to the people who understand education from the ground up, not from the top down.

July 15, 2016

John B. King, Jr., U.S. Secretary of Education

400 Maryland Ave., SW

Washington, DC 20202

Dear Secretary King,

The purpose of this letter is to invite you to visit my progressive school district on Long Island, New York. The Patchogue-Medford School District values the “whole child” and focuses on the social, emotional and academic needs of all our children. The biography on your home webpage claims you bring a continued commitment to advancing excellence and equity for every student, supporting educators and elevating the teaching profession. I respectfully disagree with the abovementioned claims.  The “test and punish” mindset promoted by your office must cease at once because teaching to a state test is killing the spirit of public education. I respectfully request we have a conversation related to your vision regarding current and future polices as well as your unjustified intention of dismantling public schools as we know it.

I know you would benefit greatly by listening to the multiple perspectives of our teachers, administrators and students. As Horace Mann once said, “A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.” Unfortunately, this is what the U.S. Department of Education has moved forward to promote the love of learning. Let’s begin to change that narrative. I look forward to your response.


Michael J. Hynes,Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Hear More: Michael Hynes will be appearing with Long Island radio personality Jay Oliver Tuesday, July 18,  at 7 a.m. on Long Island News Radio/103.9 FM. Click here to tune in. Jay Oliver’s show runs on weekdays from 5 a.m to 9 a.m.