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A million little pieces

With public schools clamoring for money, and education perpetually struggling for attention as a national priority, you might think it would be useful for the department to streamline its mission, kill programs that seemed duplicative or ineffective, and focus on a few big goals. But you’d be reckoning with the one big force that shapes the department and uses it to promote its own goals. “Blame Congress, not the department,” said Amy Laitinen, the deputy director of the Education Policy Program at the New America think tank who previously worked as a policy advisor on postsecondary education at the department.