To the horror of some members of the media a couple of Republican candidates including Nevada’s Sharon Angle are pledging that if elected they will fight to abolish the Department of Education.
From the howls from the media and the nation’s long-coddled educrats you’d think the candidates were proposing to close all of America’s primary and secondary schools and fire the teachers – oops I man the nation’s educators. One can’t call them teachers anymore. Probably as the so-called “rubber rooms” – holding areas for inept teachers who can’t be fired suggests - a lot of them just can’t teach.
Can anyone tell me exactly what crucial, or for that matter, worthwhile functions this bloated bureaucratic boondoggle performs that improves the quality of teaching in the nation’s public schools?
With an annual budget for about 5,000 employees of whopping $77.8 Billion for 2011, it provides little bang for the big bucks it spends.
It seems obvious that the principal function of the DOE has nothing to do with improving the quality of public education and everything to do with doing the bidding of the nation’s powerful teacher’s unions and supporting politicians such as Mr. Obama.
Surprisingly some of the most stringent criticism that greeted the proposed new Department came from certified liberals such as former Colorado Rep. Pat Schroeder who correctly warned that “No matter what anyone says, the Department of Education will not just write checks to local school boards. They will meddle in everything. I do not want that.”
Representative Joseph Early (D-MA) predicted that a “national Department may actually impede the innovation of local programs as it attempts to establish uniformity throughout the Nation.”
Senator Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) condemned the new law as a straight political payoff by Carter to teacher unions for their endorsement in the 1976 presidential election. “This is a back-room deal, born out of squalid politics. Everything we had thought we would not see happening to education is happening here.”
They were all proven right.
But efforts to rid the nation of this boondoggle have failed thanks to the power of the teacher’s unions and their huge contributions to the National Democratic party and its candidates.
As late as 1996, the Republican Party platform stated: “The Federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the market place. This is why we will abolish the Department of Education.”
On its heels came President George W. Bush with his No Child Left Behind program which bloated the Department by 69.6 percent in just two years and helped keep it alive and well.
Put simply, the principal justification for why the Department should be abolished, is that Congress does not have the constitutional authority to either fund or regulate education. None whatsoever!
Among the limited and enumerated powers given to Congress in Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution, not one of them has anything to do with education.
To wiggle around that Congress sought to explain the constitutional authority by claiming “The Congress declares that the establishment of a Department of Education is in the public interest, will promote the general welfare of the United States, will help ensure that education issues receive proper treatment at the Federal level, and will enable the Federal Government to coordinate its education activities more effectively.”
This despite the fact that not a word of this drivel can be found in the text of the Constitution itself. It basis its authority to meddle with education on the Preamble to the Constitution, which reads: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
But the Supreme Court had noted in Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), “[a]lthough that Preamble indicates the general purposes for which the people ordained and established the Constitution, it has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government of the United States or on any of its Departments.”
Power, such as the authority to exercise national control over education using the lame excuse that education falls within the category of the general welfare.
Instead of being criticized, Sharron Angle should be applauded for having the guts as a candidate for elected office to say “no.” As unfortunately too many other politicians have discovered, it is all too easy to tell the electorate “yes we can” to win elections rather than, as the Constitution clearly states, “no we can’t.”
Phil Brennan is a veteran journalist. He is editor & publisher of Wednesday on the Web and was Washington columnist for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He also served as a staff aide for the House Republican Policy Committee and helped handle the Washington public relations operation for the Alaska Statehood Committee which won statehood for Alaska. He is also a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.
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