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No Child Left Behind Is Un-American Education October 4, 2007

Posted by Daniel Downs in Constitution, Democrats, education, First Amendment, Freedom of Religion, news, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), politics, power, public schools, religion, secularism, Separation of Church and State, socialism.

Since 1776, public education has been a hot topic during election campaigns. No less heated than the current round of debates over federal educational reform legislation were the debates in early American society over the need for national education. The media sensationalized the debate about the importance of a national education system capable of training all Americans. The issue was studied and discussed in classes and dorms at colleges like Yale and Harvard. It was debated at pubs, town hall meetings, and during family meals. Of course, representatives of American communities voiced with often fiery emotion their support or opposition to a number of different propositions in the halls of Congress. After much debate, Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Through this ordinance, the founders created a national system of common schools by requiring all new states to create and maintain a system of common schools, the skeleton of that system still exists today. As a result, the federal government assumed no authority over American education, but rather it delegated all authority to the states.

Because popular government requires an educated and moral citizenry, an adequate system of schools was crucial. The very idea of self-government transcends mere suffrage. It requires of all citizens an expertise in government as well as in their vocations. It also requires moral discipline. To early Americans, morality and law were nearly synonymous. They believed only a moral people could maintain freedom in society popularly governed. To them, religion was the only source of moral knowledge.1 That is why both the Northwest Ordinance and most state constitution acknowledge the necessity of religion, morality, and education for good government—government by the people.

The cornerstone of popular government is encapsulated in the First Amendment. Freedom of religion meant the absence of state intrusion in religious institutional governance. It also protected the free exercise of religion. What the Bill of Rights did not claim was an absolute wall of separation.2 Rather, it protected the preexisting support of religion.3 Some members of Congress may have frowned upon those states that maintained established denominational church, but they in no way sought to prevent it. Even dissenting groups like the Danbury Baptist Association did not want separation of religion and state, which is the reason they totally ignored Thomas Jefferson’s letter; the one used to justify separation Supreme Court judges and liberals since 1947. The Danbury Baptists did not record having received the letter, they never mention it in their meetings or churches, nor did they ever broadcast its contents to the public. It was only known from Jefferson’s own records.4 The fact that separation was not the intended meaning of the religious clauses of the First Amendment was proved by liberals in the later half of the 19th century.5 On several occasions, liberals attempted to pass an amendment that would have established an absolute wall of separation at both federal and state levels.6 Thank God, they failed. They failed to end federally funding of chaplains who served Congress, state legislatures, military, prisons, and other government institutions.7 They failed to abolish the oath of office required of judges and any other government officials.8 Until the last half of the 20th century, they failed to abrogate all laws derived from and conforming to Christian morality.9 They failed to stop religious services from being held in the chamber of Congress. They failed to remove the Ten Commandments from the Supreme Court. They failed to make it unconstitutional for the President and governors to officiate national days of prayer, fasting, and repentance.10 They failed to end the authority of the Church over marriage contracts. They initially failed to end funding to Protestant common schools, and not until the early 20th century were they able to stop prayer and bible teaching in those schools.11

Liberal’s separation of church and state amendment was intended to “effect the total separation of Church and State, limiting the power not merely of Congress but of all branches and departments of government, National, State, and municipal.”12 Even though liberals believed it was implicit in every part of the Constitution, the amendment was necessary because the First Amendment did not guarantee separation of church and state. In 1876 and 1880, Congress apparently did not agree. Most of the nation did not believe total separation of religion from politics or church from state was intended either.

More important than proving Separation is an American myth, legal and religious history proves that the framers of the First Amendment intended government to support the moral end of religion evident is most state constitutions. The constitution of my state, Ohio, also reflects that goal. The Ohio Constitution of 1851 states:

“Religion, morality, and knowledge, however, being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to pass suitable laws, to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship, and to encourage schools and the means of instruction.”

Other First Amendment clauses such as freedom of assembly, of speech, of the press also are vital to securing popular government. Without the freedom to disseminate, access, and criticize knowledge and opinions, the ability to think critically and to discern truth is not obtainable. The exercise of seeking truth is as necessity to discovering metaphysical reality as it is to ascertaining empirical facts. Education is supposed to teach Americans those critical skills that will enable them to obtain truth as well as be successful in a chosen vocation.

The problem with education today is politics. Politicians and government create and maintain useless educational programs like No Child Left Behind. Why? Because politics is about getting votes and winning elections. It is about power and money. It is about fulfilling dreams and agendas that often are contrary to Constitutional law, promoted by deception, or harmful in other ways. That is why the views and votes of presidential candidates—all politicians, actually—are very important.

Scholars and politicians often speak of education as savior of Americans in poverty, in prison, and in the secular religion. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 grew out of the federal government’s efforts in the 1950s to save local schools from economic hardship. With expanding education budgets, large federal installations such as Indian reserves, military bases, and natural reserves located in local school districts were negatively impacting tax revenues. This type of economic impact aid seemed like a fair and just means of compensating local communities and their schools for hosting federal facilities. Problems began when the federal politicians decided to own up to its responsibility for many impoverished Americans. President Lyndon Johnson saw ESEA as a way to accomplish his vision of the Great Society in which America’s urban minorities and their failing schools would be delivered from continued poverty. No one would admit it, but ESEA was a program to compensate for the negative impact of industrial greed and New Deal politics of Democrats. Since ESEA became part of the welfare economy run by the federal government, no issue it promised to fix has been resolved. After 40 years, million of Americans are still impoverished, millions of high school students continue to dropout, the achievement gap between minority and white students still is not closed, America’s school children are still doing less well than kids in foreign nations, and America youth still lack science and math skill sufficient to compete in the global economy. The repeated mantra of educational failure by politicians, business leaders, educators, and special interest groups excite a whole lot of skepticism. In fact, it reminds me of a maxim first spoken by British historian Lord Acton, who said, “all power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In sales circles, a similar maxim is a “sucker is born every minute.” The federal government ‘suckered’ the American people when it convinced them of the great benefits of ESEA. What benefits?

Charlotte Twight, professor of economics at Boise State University, claims ESEA is the means by which the federal government is attempting to gain complete control over local education.13 When states and local school districts accept ESEA funds, they must adhere to federal laws regulating the use of those funds. The latest news about the reauthorization of the newest version of ESEA—No Child Left Behind–reveals how far Congress has achieved control of local education.14 From teacher certification to classroom content and achievement, Congress is now poised to take over America’s schooling. President Bush is not to blame however. Most people do not seem to realize that Bush’s NCLB is merely the Democrat plan implemented with modifications. Why else would die-hard liberal Edward Kennedy continue to grandfather the program? The answer is NCLB is the means to fulfill the liberal’s dream to create a secular and socialist society whose citizens they control from conception to the grave.

According to presidential candidate Ron Paul, ESEA (NCLB) is unconstitutional. In an August 2005 School Board News article, state educators from numerous states argued in federal court that NCLB was unconstitutional because of unfunded federal mandates. According Paul, it is unconstitutional not because of under-funding but because Congress has no enumerated authority to legislate educational policies for states or local schools. Congress delegated all authority concerning education to the states in 1787. Besides, states do not need federal money for education. The U.S. Department of Education estimates federal aid amounts to a little over 8% of state education budgets. That leaves only one area in which the federal government might legitimately assist states: The original purpose of the Department of Education was to serve the states as a clearinghouse for educational information. A related area of service might be the facilitation of collaboration between states and invested parties on education standards and issues. Beyond these types of services and no strings attached property-based impact aid, the federal government has no constitutional right to meddle in local and state education.

Like the emotionally charged belief in church-state separation, ESEA gained an aura of legitimacy believed in by many Americans, but neither is actually valid constitutionally. ESEA is simply the darling of Democrats’ faith-based big government fascism by which they undermine the rule of law and erode the limitations of Constitutional law in order to do their thing. Power no doubt feels good to the many rich legislators who lust for more. Who knows—maybe it is an uncontrollable addiction. Nevertheless, keeping politicians within the laws and limits of the Constitution is the responsibility of the American people—the self-governing, moral, popular voters. If our freedoms under Constitutional protection are to survive, Americans must demand it of their representatives.

In the quagmire of warring partisan politics over who will rule our lives and the world, the resolve of truth-loving Americans is in question. Are moral, law abiding, truth loving Americans still up to the prolonged struggle of the real American war? It appears the not-quite-so-honest, socialist-Democrats are. Of course, appearance can be deceiving.


1. James Hutson, Forgotten Features of the Founding: The rediscovery of Religious Themes in the Early American Republic (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2003), 1-44.

2. Philip Hamburger, The Separation of Church and State (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 101-107.

3. Hutson, pp. 45-71.

4. Hamburger, pp. 107, 155-180.

5. Hamburger, pp. 112-129, 155-180, 219-229; Jay Sekulow, Witnessing Their Faith (Lantham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006), 123-158.

6. Hamburger, pp.299, 324-328; Sekulow, pp. 123-158.

7. Hamburger, p. 303.

8. Ibid., p. 303.

9. Ibid., p. 305-306.

10. Ibid., p. 303.

11. Ibid., p. 303, 219-229.

12. Ibid., p. 288-301

13. Charlotte A. Twight, Dependent on DC : The Rise of Federal Control over the Lives of Ordinary Americans (New York : Palgrave for St. Martin’s Press, 2002), 133-184.

14. The following list are recent articles giving a glimpse of the extent of federal control of state/local education:

Alexander Russo, “Lessons From Reading First: No One Cares About Local Control Anymore,” Education Week, February (22, 2007). The article is located at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/thisweekineducation/2007/02/

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), “Encouraging unique paths to success: Enhancing NCLB,” The Hill, September 18, 2007. The language of this concise article exudes much federal control over education. The article is located at: http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/encouraging-unique-paths-to-success-enhancing-nclb-2007-09-18.html

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), “Unkept promises of NCLB expose the need for reform,” The Hill, September 18, 2007. The language in this article is much more subtle and unassuming than in Crapo’s. However, the content shines forth enlightenment ideology of rights. For example, Dodd claims a quality education is a right. Where is that stated in either the the U.S. Constitution? Dodd also leads the reader to assume that NCLB is a new law, not a preexisting one. The only thing new will be its revisions. By framing his content this way, readers could be easily deceived. That may not be his purpose, but is the goal of many other writers either criticizing their opponents or seeking to convince others to approve of their unlawful laws. The article is located at: http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/unkept-promises-of-nclb-expose-the-need-for-reform-2007-09-18.html

On the other end of the spectrum is a parent-focused view by Rebecca Hagelin, “Parent Control, Not Federal Control,” WorldNetDaily, September 6, 2007. The article is located at: http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=57493

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