Given the god-tier levels of ineptness U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos displays on any given day, it seems unthinkable that any government official could top her ignorance on education. Enter Republican Ralph Abraham, current Louisiana Congressional Representative and candidate for governor.
When it comes to reforming Louisiana’s notoriously under-performing public school system, Abraham’s views are simple: cut the State’s Department of Education altogether.
This would “empower...local school boards, teachers and parents” and put parents and communities “in charge of educating our children – not the federal government,” according to his campaign website. Abraham’s website is curiously silent when it comes to providing further details on how he plans on overhauling the educational system and “empowering” parents and communities.
The biggest irony in Abraham’s support of axing the Department of Education is that such a move would hurt Louisiana more than almost any other state in the country.
Louisiana currently receives roughly 13% of its funding for public education from the federal government, a higher percentage than most other states.
Abraham’s education reform plan, if we can even call his bare-boned attempt at coddling President Trump a plan, works under the assumption that every community across the United States is backed by a robust network of engaged parents, qualified teachers and ample funds from local governments.
This may be true of the privileged neighborhoods Abraham is used to living in, but it is far from the reality of some American school districts. The most economically-disadvantaged neighborhoods cannot raise the same property taxes that a rich neighborhood can, so they have less to spend on renovations, materials, personnel and most tragically, qualified teachers.
Rich school districts would have to redistribute their wealth to poorer school districts in order to give all Louisiana children an adequate education. Under Abraham’s plan, based on prior historical examples, however, it seems unlikely that wealthy taxpayers in good school districts would agree to this idea.
Beyond its economic impracticality, Abraham’s plan for education reform disturbs me for the blame and responsibility it places on parents’ shoulders. In an economy where low-income families have to work longer and longer hours to afford basic necessities for themselves and for their families, it seems ridiculous that Abraham would deem it a parent’s responsibility to figure out how to educate their children.
When Abraham said, “parents...should be in charge of educating our children,” he is not empowering parents to teach their children; he is penalizing children with absent parents and blaming hardworking parents for the demise of the Louisiana education system.
No matter your political ideology and regardless of your support of his campaign, Abraham’s education reform plan should convince you that he puts the “goober” in gubernatorial candidate.
Abraham’s poorly constructed plan to terminate the Department of Education will do nothing more than deprive children from low-income families and communities an opportunity at receiving the education they deserve in the world’s richest country.
Cécile Girard is a 19-year-old biology and psychology major from Lake Charles, Louisiana.