Though few people outside of the Tea Party—especially politicians—have the guts to say it, federal education control like the No Child Left Behind Act is blatantly unconstitutional. Authority over education is not among the federal government’s enumerated powers, and laws like the NCLB—which truly is a wreck driven by what self-interested politicians thought sounded good—also go far beyond the 14th Amendment’s charge to prohibit discrimination by state and local governments.
But not satisfied to just have Washington fully ensconced in classrooms, this morning the Obama administration officially went to double-secret violation of the Constitution, adding a brazen dumping of the separation of powers to federal education policy.
This second layer of Constitution-contempt comes in the form of the administration telling states that they can get waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act—which the NCLB allows—but requiring that they adopt administration-approved policies to do so. That second part the NCLB does not allow, meaning the president has decided to rewrite the law all by himself—including strong-arming states to adopt “college and career ready standards,” another step toward federal curriculum standards—even though the Constitution is crystal clear: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.”
In response to this, will we finally hear the Constitution loudly, constantly, and honestly invoked and defended by members of Congress, especially those in the GOP who don’t have the obstacle of having to defend “their” president? We sure as heck should, but don’t count on it: If they start really defending the Constitution now, think of all the violations they’ve happily perpetrated that someone might notice. No, better to keep up the double-secret evasion and complain on other grounds, like President Obama is being too “political.” Because no one in Congress—or anywhere else—would ever act based on political motives, such as concluding that “Constitution, shmonstitution, we can’t push to get the Feds completely out of education because people would think we are mean.”
No, political thinking like that would never happen.