The bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures is coming out with a devastating report tomorrow that reportedly shreds the Bush administration over the No Child Left Behind Act.
Most interestingly, the report tomorrow comes to the conclusion that the No Child left Behind Act is unconstitutional.
I have been trying to call attention to this issue for at least two years now. I sent the letter below to all the state legislators (that I could get email addresses for) in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana, and also sent it to several newspapers. To my knowledge, no newspaper printed my letter. Obviously, I am not alone in this opinion, though whether or not I had an influence on the legislators, I cannot say. I did receive numerous replies at the time, many of which expressed sympathy with the ideas but claimed they could not afford to fight against NCLB because of loss of revenues to the state. Maybe the tide is turning. I hope that states are ready to begin asserting their rights in this and other issues where the federal government has intruded on reserved powers.
I also brought up this issue at a public hearing with Senator Daschle's staffer on education about a year ago. She claimed that she had not heard of anyone saying the law was unconstitutional. She and others seem to be of the opinion that the law is constitutional because it is addressing a civil rights issue. I find that quite a stretch.
Here is my letter:March 1, 2003
An Open Letter to State Senators, Representative, Governors, and Educators,
Oppose Federal Control of Education
The time has come for the individual states to take a stand. I call upon you, as a leader of your state, to act with strength and conviction to oppose the tyranny of the Federal Government which has acted unconstitutionally and irresponsibly with its so-called “No Child Left Behind Act.”
Your state should not be required to act alone, but it must act, for only if individuals have the courage to lead can the strength of the many be brought to bear—for ultimately, all states should join together in refusing to allow this well-intentioned, but nevertheless intolerable, law to stand.
Let us address the issues. First, the law is unconstitutional. Our constitution clearly forbids the Federal Government from engaging in activities which are not specifically prescribed for it, and education is notably absent from the list. Education is the responsibility of the states, to be discharged in a manner they individually see fit. The Federal Government has been violating this provision under the guise of various excuses for many decades. The time has come to say “NO MORE.” It is true that a great need for national standards exists, and states should cooperate to produce such standards. It is not the Federal Government’s business, duty, right, or responsibility to participate in this process in any capacity whatsoever. Let us respect the Supreme Law of our Land, enforce it as our founders intended, or change it by the process of amendment—not by setting it aside through legislative whim.
Second, the law is fiscally irresponsible. At a time when most states are facing severe budget crises together with their own individual problems in education, money and resources are being diverted from necessary and useful educational activities to meet the arbitrary, questionable, and sometimes illogical requirements of the law.
Third, the law contains absurd requirements which will ultimately have the effect of reducing the quality of education in some places. There are many such requirements, but to list just a few, we note that some states are scrambling to lower standards so that their schools won’t “fail,” that the law takes away resources from schools that need them most, and that the requirement that results hold across all subgroups is impossible in some cases and ridiculous in others (e.g., one or only a few children in a subgroup; special education).
The law is a result of good intentions and most of its goals are noble and perhaps even shared by the states. I have no doubt that some sort of national effort is needed to improve our schools. This isn’t it, but even if it were, it would still be incumbent upon us to resist the spread of federal tyranny and insist that the constitution be followed as it was written and as it was intended.
Please help to preserve our freedoms!