Education Secretary Can't Say Where Constitution Authorizes Education Department

By Christopher Goins | March 14, 2011 | 5:33am EDT

FILE: Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the students and others gathered at George Washington University in Washington on Tuesday, April 21, 2010, that Title IX protects the civil rights of women. Seated to his left is Valerie Jarrett, head of the White House Council on Women and Girls ( Starr)

Washington ( – U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard, could not say where the U.S. Constitution authorizes the federal government to be involved in primary and secondary education.

On Thursday, after a House subcommittee hearing, asked Duncan, “The Bill of Rights says that powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states and the people. With that in mind, Mr. Secretary, where specifically does the Constitution authorize the federal government to be involved in primary and secondary education?”

Duncan dodged the question. “We are obviously a small percent of overall funding--you know about 10 percent," he said. "The vast majority of funding comes at the local level--state and local level. But we have a responsibility to support children who have historically not had those kinds of opportunities--disadvantaged children, poor children, homeless students, children who are English language learners and, more recently, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of reform from the department.

"We have to dramatically improve the quality of education we are providing this country and we can help to continue to reward excellence and encourage at the local level,” Duncan said.

According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Education spent $106.9 billion in fiscal 2010.

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