Politico’s ‘The Agenda’ magazine offers wonky package on education
And in “Kill the Department of Ed.? It’s been done.,” Kevin Kosar, an education policy historian, recounts how Congress created a federal Education Department in 1867 and killed it a year later. The “meek agency” had a commissioner and three clerks, and was charged by law with “collecting such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the United States.” The agency also was to publish useful information on the “organization and operation” of school systems and “promote the case of education throughout the country,” Kosar notes.
Many in Congress were worried about this federal power grab, and by 1868, the department was demoted to an office in the Department of the Interior. (The piece has a nifty graphic describing federal efforts in education going back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1785.)