OpinionMeister

Saturday, February 26, 2005

NYT Discovers the Constitution

In order to attack a Bush program (No Child Left Behind, with which I too disagree) the New York Times actually ran a story that this Federal intrusion into the state responsibility to educate our children is unconstitutional. Link.
Concluding a yearlong study on the effectiveness of President Bush's sweeping education law, No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers drawn from many states yesterday pronounced it a flawed, convoluted and unconstitutional education reform initiative that has usurped state and local control of public schools. (...)

"Under N.C.L.B., the federal government's role has become excessively intrusive in the day-to-day operations of public education," the National Conference of State Legislatures said in the report, which was written by a panel of 16 state legislators and 6 legislative staff members. (...)

"Everybody was in agreement about the goals of the law, but we in the states are concerned that the existing structure is very prescriptive," Mr. Saland said. "We think there are ways of doing accountability that recognize differences among states."

The law will come up for reauthorization in Congress in 2007. But Mr. Saland said he and other members of the task force hoped to persuade Congress to change the law before then. (...)

One chapter of the report says that the Constitution does not delegate powers to educate the nation's citizens to the federal government, thereby leaving education under state control. The report contends that No Child Left Behind has greatly expanded federal powers to a degree that is unconstitutional..

"This assertion of federal authority into an area historically reserved to the states has had the effect of curtailing additional state innovations and undermining many that had occurred during the past three decades," the report said.

"The task force does not believe that N.C.L.B. is constitutional," it said.

The NYT has long held that the Constitution is whatever five justices say it is, as long as it is not five conservative justices. The framers could not have been clearer. The federal government has only those powers specifically delegated to it by the Constitution. State governments, on the other hand, have any powers they want that are not specifically barred by the Constitution. Only emanations and penumbral from the Constitution can justify federal involvement in state educational policy. When states are allowed to do things differently, citizens have the right and ability to "vote with their feet" and still remain in the country. When the federal government institutes a policy in all fifty states, citizens must choose between this country and another. This is not a choice that should be forced on people.

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