During Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, he campaigned in favor of abolishing the Department of Education, which had been established in 1979 by then-President Jimmy Carter. The New American published a pretty lengthy piece in 2012 about why Reagan couldn’t actually abolish the Department during his two terms in office.
But the idea didn’t die with the end of the Reagan Administration. The issue arose again in 1996 with Bob Dole’s presidential campaign. At a campaign stop in Georgia, Dole said, “We’re going to cut out the Department of Education.” According to a 2004 WND article, the Republican Platform in 1996 read:
Our formula is as simple as it is sweeping: The federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the workplace. That is why we will abolish the Department of Education, end federal meddling in our schools, and promote family choice at all levels of learning.
We therefore call for prompt repeal of the Goals 2000 program and the School-To-Work Act of 1994, which put new federal controls, as well as unfunded mandates, on the States. We further urge that federal attempts to impose outcome- or performance-based education on local schools be ended.
Readers here know what happened next. Dole lost. And federal influence over the education system expanded under Republican President George W. Bush under the auspices of “No Child Left Behind.” This legislation has raised conservatives’ ire since its passage.