In brazen defiance of the enumerated powers listed in the U.S. Constitution that all lawmakers swore an oath to uphold, both houses of Congress passed massive “education” bills packed with attacks on real education, local control of schools, student and family privacy, and the rights of parents. Despite false campaign promises by Republicans to rein in the Obama administration, the legislation passed by the GOP majority purports to reauthorize a dizzying array of unconstitutional federal “education” schemes — including draconian tools Obama has lawlessly used to nationalize education through the hugely unpopular Common Core standards. The White House has already indicated that it supports the legislation and will sign it, but critics are up in arms.
Perhaps the most important element of the legislation is that it reauthorizes the anti-constitutional Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 — the primary mechanism used by Washington, D.C., to usurp control over education from parents and communities. In essence, the measure opened the floodgates of federal funding for government schools, and with those funds, which come with “strings” attached, D.C. politicians and bureaucrats formally launched their plan to federalize public schools. The ESEA scheme was amended and made even more draconian by the almost universally reviled “No Child Left Behind” Act, implemented by a coalition including Ted Kennedy and George W. Bush. That program was crucial in forcing states to impose a radical testing regime that was ultimately used to federalize what is taught in schools.
Legal authorization for No Child Left Behind actually ended in 2008, yet Congress continues to appropriate funds for it. Just as importantly, the Obama administration continues to exploit the non-existent authority to usurp even more control over schools and the minds of children — offering “waivers” from the “mandates,” along with bribes, to state governments that agree to impose the Obama-backed Common Core regime.
In Ronald Reagan’s day, abolishing the federal role in education was the Republican position. By contrast, the GOP majority in Congress today seems determined to expand that giant D.C. boot print, as is shown clearly by the “education” bills, which further empower Obama. The latest bills even purport to legitimize the White House’s previous usurpations of power in violation of the law.
Ironically, much of the present Republican establishment’s rhetoric focused on pretending that the legislation would “give” states authorities and “flexibility” on education — powers the states already had and still have under the U.S. Constitution and the 10th Amendment, and powers that are not the federal government’s to “give” in the first place. “The needs of a student in eastern Kentucky aren’t likely to be the same as those of students in south Florida or downtown Manhattan,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said on the Senate floor. “This bill would give states the flexibility to develop systems that work for the needs of their students, rather than the one-size-fits-all mandate of Washington.”
Of course, Washington has no authority to “mandate” anything on education, because the states never delegated any power to Washington over education in the U.S. Constitution. That means the 10th Amendment specifically prohibits any federal involvement in education at all, and especially purported “mandates.”