Schools Would Be Better Off Without A Department of Education

Written by Dr. Everett Piper

Recently another major story in the world of education came from Oklahoma, where Ryan Walters, the state superintendent of public instruction, is being demonized by the mainstream media for the termination of more than 80 employees from the Sooner State’s Department of Education.

To this news, we should all say: “Good! Thank you, Mr. Walters. In fact, if you could shut down the entire department, we’d all be better off.”


Because centralized education, at its core, is really about the paradigm of Common Core. This type of top-down philosophy of education is an insult to academic freedom. It imposes mediocrity on schools and teachers rather than releasing them to do what they’ve been trained to do best.

The agenda of the professional educational class has become, by definition, little more than a dumbing-down of curriculum to what is common or average. In this academic model, elites dictate what the teacher will teach. Common Core, via its centralized philosophy, diminishes inquiry to a limited set of ideas agreed upon by those in power.

This is a world where lesson plans become a set of closed constructs of commonality that capitulate to the mediocrity of the group and the collective opinion. Individuality and local autonomy are besmirched because Big Brother knows best.

The goal of every good school should be the exact opposite. The best education is about pursuing truth, not the propagation of whatever agenda the professional class thinks is good for us.

Education should be about open debate that challenges the consensus rather than simply accepting the status quo. The student’s thirst for knowledge should always trump the state’s hunger for control.

Today’s educational elites have repeatedly proved that they are more interested in training a society of lemmings mindlessly goose-stepping in their parade of commonality than they are in producing a citizenry capable of critical thought and personal discernment.

Students are rewarded more for parroting what is politically correct and popping off with their predictable ad hominem attacks and ad populum fallacies than they are for having the confidence and capacity to be intellectually honest.

The academy’s history is rooted in the opposite. It is grounded in the liberal arts and the ideal of a free mind rather than one held in bondage by politics and power. Centralized education is antithetical to this tradition of intellectual freedom.

When I served as a university president for nearly 20 years, I never once told my faculty members how to develop their syllabuses or what textbooks to use. No college faculty worth its salt would ever accept being told what and how to teach by their college president.

My job was to hire excellent scholars and competent teachers and then release them to do their jobs. Yet when it comes to elementary and secondary education, we’ve come to think the best education is dictated from the top down. Why?

The authority for education needs to go back to our local communities. Yes, that burdens parents, school boards, superintendents and teachers, but that’s where the responsibility belongs. The job of educating our progeny belongs to the people who care most about our children.

The question isn’t whether or not we have curricular standards, but rather who’s going to set them, who’s going to define them, and who’s going to decide what ideas are good or bad, right or wrong, true or false for our culture and our kids. Parents and school boards should decide what they want their kids to learn and teach it accordingly.

This is not the government’s or the Department of Education‘s business. It is yours and mine.

What is taught today in the classroom will be practiced tomorrow in our communities. Top-down indoctrination will result in commonality and compliance. Local instruction instills character, independence, and cultural confidence. Our children will succeed only when we teach the truth, not what is common.

Oklahomans and all Americans should thank Ryan Walters for getting rid of scores of bureaucrats from his state’s Department of Education. The only thing that would be better is to shut down the entire monstrosity and give the responsibility for our schools back to the communities, teachers and parents.

That is where this responsibility belonged in the first place.

Dr. Everett Piper (, @dreverettpiper), is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” and Grow Up! Life Isn’t Safe But It’s Good, both published by Regnery. This article was originally published by The Washington Times.

Dr. Piper has been a featured speaker in dozens of venues including the Values Voter Summit, the Council for National Policy, the Young American Foundation, the National Congress for Families, and the inaugural ceremony for the United States Department of Health and Human Service’s and Office of Civil Rights creation of a new division for religious freedom. Go here to listen and watch these and/or for more info.