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  • What Does the Supreme Court Think About Washington's Education Overreach?

    During the course of Obamacare oral arguments in late March, an interesting exchange between Justice Samuel Alito and U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli illuminated the Administration’s education overreach vis-à-vis national standards. Education Week reports:

    For the U.S. Supreme Court, the closely watched six hours of arguments last week were all about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. So how did the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, teacher tenure, curriculum, Title IX, and other education topics become part of the discussion?

    They came up as the justices debated whether the health-care law’s expansion of the Medicaid program would give the federal government limitless powers to impose conditions on the states when they accept money in other areas, such as education.

    Perhaps it’s no coincidence that education spending, conditioned on accepting executive branch policy priorities, was used as an example of federal overreach. The Obama Administration has been overreaching into local school decisions, such as the content taught in classrooms, by requiring states to adopt national standards and tests as a condition of receiving federal education funding. Justice Alito stated:

    Let’s say Congress says to the States: We have got great news for you; we know your expenditures on education are a huge financial burden, so we are going to take that completely off your shoulders; we are going to impose a special Federal education tax which will raise exactly the same amount of money as all of the states now spend on education; and then we are going to give you a grant that is equal to what you spent on education last year.

    Now, this is a great offer and we think you will take it, but of course, if you take it, it’s going to have some conditions because we are going to set rules on teacher tenure, on collective bargaining, on curriculum, on textbooks, class size, school calendar and many other things. So take it or leave it.

    The Obama Administration has conditioned access to Race to the Top on states’ adopting the White House’s preferred education policies, including national standards and tests. The Administration has also conditioned access to No Child Left Behind waivers on states’ adopting common standards. That has left little doubt that any short-term “relief” states feel from entering into the waiver pact will ultimately be overwhelmed by long-term handcuffs, further binding states and school districts to Department of Education rules and regulations.

    Toward the end of the exchange, Paul Clement, arguing on behalf of the Obamacare challengers, warned that these continued federal overreaches—made possible through spending—directly threaten federalism.

    And it’s a very strange conception of federalism that says that we can simply give the States an offer that they can’t refuse, and through the spending power—which is premised on the notion that Congress can do more because it’s voluntary—we can force the States to do whatever we tell them to. That is a direct threat to our federalism.

    Clement’s words should sound a warning bell to state leaders. Bogus waiver “relief” and new spending conditioned on adopting national standards and tests is an offer that governors and state boards of education should in fact refuse. States should reject No Child Left Behind waivers and demand genuine relief from NCLB and should oppose national standards and tests. States that have already adopted still have time to leave the Common Core national standards bandwagon, and they should do so to preserve state and local control over the content taught in local schools across America.

    Posted in Education, Featured, Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to What Does the Supreme Court Think About Washington's Education Overreach?

    1. SAT says:

      Why? It appears that that fundamental problem (one of numerous obstacles) is the lack of a national education program. States differ so much when it comes to standards, standardized tests, and graduation, teacher rating/tenure, and even class sizes. Why should this be? It seems to me (as a public school teacher), that the lack of cohesion is causing major problems. How is it that we can even compare a student in New York City to a student in Mississippi when the requirements and standards differ so considerably that it would appear these states are distanced by an ocean and thousands of land miles? I am appalled that the United States–the richest and most powerful country in the world still today–ranks so dismally in world rankings in math, reading, etc. We barely crack the top 30. Why is that? We're too busy leaving it up to States to decide that low standards and lack of support for students who are behind and ill-vetted teachers should in fact determine the future of public education in this country. God (or whoever is there) help us all.

      • Barb says:

        Innovations disciplined by local, free market competition are improving K-12 education as we speak. One of the latest examples is the wholesale replacement of many public schools with more successful charter schools in post-Katrina New Orleans. The popularity of charter school lotteries suggests that demand exceeds the state-and-local-government-restricted supply. This begs the question, "Would improvement accelerate if there was no government control or standardization of education?" SAT…that reminds me that there are a few ways to compare students in New York and Mississippi, although a parent must ACT by paying for it.

    2. Ruben G says:

      SAT – 19 hours ago. You're sick. Twist the obvious truth. Competition! If New 'Yuck' students do better it would seem to me that Miss Issippi would get off her glutious maximus and do something about it, not depend on Uncle Sam. We have enough social and subsidized programs. Grow up. God is there but he can't teach you your p's and q's or dot your i's and cross you 'teeth'.

      • allen says:

        Here is a stat for every one. "You say United States, OK, Your little Test "Name all Fifty States and their Capitals in Twenty Minutes? 78 % of educators cannot do this. 84% of Students cannot do this. If you want to be United? You should KNOW some thing about the States.Just for FUN, Take the TEST, Only you will know. Get the kids to do it You will be amazed. And "You are Not Dumber than a Fifth Grader.

        • saveamerica says:

          Obvious danger is in government controlling education. Love the challenge. I can name those 50 states and in alphabetical order in less than a minute. Proper education isn't controlled by government or government monopolies. Government has been a great conflict of proper education! What's on the government agenda is what they educate!

        • Jaysto says:

          My first grade daughter knows ALL 50 states and their capitals! She goes to private school. Just saying…

    3. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      If you believe that distant, out-of-touch state government legislators and bureaucrats cannot efficiently manage and fund the education of their own school districts, what makes you think that their more distant and more out-of-touch federal counterparts can do any better managing the school districts of all 50 states?

      States and school districts frequently complain about the numerous strings attached to federal and state funding, respectively. If you depend on someone else to close your budget gap, be it education, security or Medicaid, be ready for their mandates.

      What's wrong with diversity? The President tells us repeatedly that diversity is what makes this nation great.

      Perhaps if students spent more time learning reading, writing, arithmetic, science and history and less time learning about sex, anti-bullying, global warming, singing songs about Obama and attending Occupy protests, this nation's world ranking would improve.

    4. Carol, AZ says:

      Yes, clearly educational standard across America states by state differ by cpomaprison. _For just one issue, in CA per example , Gov Brown has a bill pending that will pass-on to tax payers an increase of 37% in support of non-english speaking children. One out of four fall under this category. _"70% in elementary school systems are reported as non-english leaners. In some districts like Santa Ana, non-English population student body is 80% , enrolled for the elementary grades." _Never spoken about due to CA's sanctuary policy in terms for education, the entire systems has been dumb down and broken , to reformat and accommodate this tsunami from illegals to flock there. Any parent that can afford it, send their child to a private school where english isn't an issue for learning. _Here in AZ our public schools are ranked 46th out of 50 States for standardized learning.Our educational budget crashed by not near the influzx comapred to CA.

    5. Clara says:

      If a child cannot speak English, he should not be in school, which, if it is built on US soil, it is meant to have English speaking children under its roof. If the child cannot speak English, he learns at home until he can and then goes to school. No room for Spanish in an American school. And why are we comparing knowledge among the states? Why don't all schools have the same textbooks and see what happens? If the students can't learn, or don't learn, flunk them until they can learn. They'll get the idea. Why wait until 3rd grade to be able to read? I was able to read after 1st grade. Quit playing soccer and baseball and have recess 2x a day. Do the soccer and baseball, etc. in high school. What do you think school is for, anyway. Turn off the computers, etc. and work. And don't send your kid to kindergarten. He learns too much. This is the age he should be running around outside playing. For Chrissake!

    6. Steve says:

      Clara, as an educator, I take some offense to your comment about a student not being able to speak English. Many people who come to this country cannot speak English, including many of our ancestors. is this not the land of opportunity? How do we provide opportunity without an education? and how do we provide education if you want to deny many immigrants one of basic rights in our country

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