Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Education Dollars at Work: The DOE’s Private Arsenal

Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons

In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, there has been considerable talk about how to make our schools safer, including the NRA’s proposal to put armed guards in every school. However, this is not why the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Inspector General bought 27 new Remington Model 870 police 12-gauge shotguns in 2010. Nor were these weapons purchased to improve graduation rates or close the achievement gap. Rather, these guns were obtained for the benefit of DOE’s secret identity as an elite education fraud fighting unit.

According to Valerie Strauss, the guns were purchased to replace their old guns, weapons they argue are necessary for their “high-risk” crime fighting duties. Strauss’ piece in the Washington Post quoted a DOE spokesperson who said the Office of Inspector General arrests people with criminal backgrounds, including some with “histories of murder or violence toward law enforcement officers,” and has “full statutory law enforcement authority.”

The one example that Strauss gave of such an investigation was a recent search of a Stockton, California home as part of an investigation of waste and fraud involving federal education funds.

It seems to me that if being robbed and embezzled by highly armed, violent insiders is pervasive enough to warrant having its own heavily armed police force, the DOE has been wasting taxpayers’ money with NCLB, Race to the Top, and all its other expensive “reforms.” Instead, they should be implementing sting operations in every district in the country, creating departments of internal affairs, hiring undercover agents and turning teachers into Serpicos to root out all this corruption and vice, and then using the billions of dollars recovered by these operations to buy schools more books, computers, support staff, librarians, nurses, counselors and decently paid teachers.

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