Education Department Employee Mantras to Save The Children

With every presidential election comes a discussion about the abolition of unpopular federal agencies. Usually the Environmental Protection Agency and the Education Department are at the top of the list.

But with each new administration, the federal bureaucracy revs up to go full tilt. With President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos to be education secretary, the Education Department is likely not going anywhere, but it does have a good chance of refocusing on different priorities, including competition and choice in education.

Rick Hess, a researcher and author with experience working across the political spectrum to find solutions that often involve ideas from teachers who are actually good at what they do has come up with some thoughts for federal bureaucrats at the Education Department to repeat while they’re at work every day.

Here are a few of the highlights. Just say “Om.”

  • I’ll tell myself every day: “I’m no smarter than I used to be just because I’ve been hired as a federal bureaucrat.”
  • I’m in an office that I haven’t “earned” in any real sense and yet have a significant ability to influence the lives of millions of students, educators, and families. Thus, I’ll strive to remember that many of these people may disagree with me as to what’s “right” or in their best interest, and to accept their criticisms and disagreements in good faith.
  • I will remember that it’s Congress’ job to write the nation’s laws, and that the job of executive branch agencies (like the Department of Ed) is to execute those laws—not to rewrite them or impose their own.
  • I won’t allow all the people sucking up and asking for my time to give me an inflated sense of self. I’ll remember that their affection isn’t actually about me; it’s about access, influence, and money. When I fear I’m forgetting any of this, I’ll call an old friend or colleague who will call bulls$%t . . . and remind me what I used to say about self-impressed federal bureaucrats.

Read the entire mantra by Rick Hess at Education Next.