John Moore stands outside his restaurant in Williams’ historic district. Photo by Charlie Clark, Cronkite News
John Moore stands outside his restaurant in Williams’ historic district.

In a radio interview earlier this month, Arizona congressional candidate John Moore shared his hopes that more people will “awaken” to the various crises he believes are facing the U.S.

“The reality is reality. America is in trouble right now,” said Moore, a Republican who is the current Mayor of Williams, Arizona. “Our gasoline prices are astronomical. Our borders wide open. Transgender people are trying to take over. I can go on and on.”

“Let’s talk about education,” said KBTK-FM host Jeff Oravits during the April 10 interview. “Because maybe that’s part of the problem. Our education system has produced a lot of nonsense.”

Attacks Against Public Education on the Rise

Education has taken a place at the forefront of conservative politics in the past year. Conservative activists are attacking local school boards, with special vitriol being directed towards masks, LGBTQ-inclusivity, and Critical Race Theory, which is not taught in K-12 education. In extreme cases, this has culminated in harassment and death threats against school officials.

“I know this is more of a state issue, and it should be a state’s rights issue,” Oravits said. “But the federal government has such power over the states when it comes to education. How do you fix the education system, I guess, from DC?”
“Well, ideal situation, if we could do away with the federal education system of the Board of Education. They set up in their towers in Washington, DC, and dictate to the school districts what they should do,” Moore responded. “Our school districts should be ran by the communities that they reside in.”

A Long History of Preserving Quality Education—And Attacking It

The Department of Education, established by Jimmy Carter in 1979, is responsible for setting standards in education at the national level. It aims to supplement and complement local school districts in ensuring high-quality education across the U.S. It works to identify trends and issues within the educational system and explores ways of improving education. It also handles the distribution of financial aid for students based on merit, financial need, and other special circumstances.

Moore’s ideal scenario – the removal of the Department of Education – is not a new goal for Republicans. Donald Trump campaigned on this issue in the leadup to the 2016 election, saying that he wanted to abolish the Department of Education and hand the reins to local officials instead. His administration later proposed to diminish the federal government’s power over education by merging the Department of Education with the Department of Labor.

Moore is not the only candidate to push for the removal of the Department of Education in 2022. Justin Olson, a candidate for Arizona’s GOP Senate primary, said he wanted to introduce a bill to eliminate the Department of Education in an interview on the “Voice of the Valley” podcast.

In prior election cycles, opposition to the Department of Education was a way for GOP politicians to signal that they also opposed a broader concern: specifically, government overreach. Now, the idea may be making a comeback, as education becomes a new center of outrage in Republican politics.

More on Moore

Moore also said on air that more public schools should teach trade skills, such as welding and carpentry.

Moore continued, “You know, Jeff, I’m not so naive to think that I can make the Federal Board of Education go away, but I can start talking about it.”

Moore’s campaign page describes him as a lifelong public servant, who wants to protect the interests of rural towns like Williams. He aligns himself with Trump politics, writing that he wants to “[take] this fight right to the swamp.”

Moore previously ran for U.S. Congress in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, but suspended his campaign in 2020 so that he could focus on his mayoral duties during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moore’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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