March 28, 2012 4:00PM

Hoover’s Mission Imponderable?

The mission statement of the Hoover Institution reads, in part, as follows:

This Institution supports the Constitution of the United States, its Bill of Rights and its method of representative government. Both our social and economic systems are based on private enterprise from which springs initiative and ingenuity.… the Federal Government should undertake no governmental, social or economic action, except where local government, or the people, cannot undertake it for themselves.…

Hoover’s Koret Task Force on Education has just released a report calling for various changes to federal K‑12 policy, but nonetheless preserving a significant role.

I have great respect for many of the members of this task force, and agree with their stated goals, but the U.S. Constitution delegates no education policy powers to the federal government, and the 10th Amendment reserves such unmentioned powers to the states and the people. So in keeping with its mission statement, no Hoover task force should be recommending a continued federal role in education policy.

No loophole is provided by the exception for cases where “local government, or the people, cannot undertake” the given actions for themselves. There are at least 15 states that are already moving in the direction of private school choice that the task force is suggesting. Clearly states can undertake such actions.

Of course Hoover is not alone in making recommendations unmoored from its stated mission and from the sound constitutional principles that mission embraces. But given its many brilliant and capable members, perhaps it is one of the few that can recognize it is adrift and still see the light of its principles on the horizon.