Republicans Waking from Gun Induced Slumber

Big news in the Washington Post this week as Republican congressmen from several states have managed to take a break from making sure anybody can buy firearms from a gun show without a simple background check to paying a little attention to a real example of federal takeover and loss of liberty.   I’m talking of course about the Obama Administration’s blatant disregard for your 10th Amendment rights.  You remember the 10th Amendment, right?  It wasn’t an afterthought when the founders ended the greatest democratic document ever written with the following words:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

In other words, if the Constitution doesn’t mention it, it should be left to the states or the people.  Well, guess what’s not mentioned in the Constitution?  Education.

So, according to our Constitution, the power to legislate and regulate education in this country should be left to the states.  Unfortunately, that is not what is currently happening with the commandeering of public education through the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

You want to talk about the “slippery slope” of the federal government taking away liberty?  Stop looking at guns and gays for a minute and take a peek at how Arne Duncan has personally dictated what 45 of our states are going to teach.

Oh, there are many who will tell you that the CCSS was a state-led initiative and in the beginning it may have been.  However, something happened on the way to educational heaven in the form of a federal hijacking.  Here’s the quick version of how it went down:

Back in 2002 President George Bush signed NCLB into effect.  Remember that little ditty?  Well, according to NCLB, 100% of American kiddos were going to be “proficient” in math and literacy by 2014.  OR ELSE!  NCLB was all stick and no carrot.  Schools that made NCLB goals were rewarded by being left alone.  Schools that failed to make goals were subject to a series of federally mandated “reforms” to “help” them become better.  NCLB got around the little Constitutional problem by controlling federal funds given to schools.  Conform to NCLB or you lose tens of millions of dollars in Title I money.  That wasn’t the first time the federal government employed this strategy.  Reagan threatened to withhold federal highway funds from states that didn’t set the Interstate speed limit at 55mph.  Clinton did roughly the same thing in order to convince states to set the legal blood alcohol limit at .08.

But I digress.  When NCLB declared that 100% of American students were going to be “proficient” by 2014, it set a goal that was impossible to reach.  I won’t go into why, but there’s no lack of reading material available on that one.  For our purposes here, it is enough to know that it just wasn’t going to happen.

Originally, conspiracy theorists saw this as a diabolical plot to take over public education by setting it up for inevitable failure.  Once our schools “failed” the nation would turn to vouchers, charter schools and other methods of privatization.  Flash forward to 2013 and our schools are indeed “failing” to meet NCLB goals.  However, now we have a Democrat in charge of the White House, so the conspiracy has changed.

When states inevitably failed to meet NCLB goals, they had to apply for a waiver that would allow them to escape the wrath of the federal government.  The man in charge of these waivers?  Good ol’ Arne Duncan.  Secretary Duncan granted these waivers to the states, but there were strings attached.  One of those strings was the adoption of “standards that are common to a significant number of states”.   Okay, so how many standards are common to a significant number of states?  That’s right, only one, and it’s the CCSS. How clever is that?  States did not HAVE to adopt the CCSS (wink-wink-nudge-nudge) but it would make them “more competitive” for an NCLB waiver.

46 states applied for NCLB waivers.  45 states have adopted CCSS.  Coincidence?  Probably.  Flash forward again to today and in states all across this great land of liberty there are many districts, schools and teachers who have lost almost ALL LOCAL CONTROL over what they do in their own classrooms.  So shame on you indeed Republicans and Democrats alike.  While you were busy protecting the next Adam Lanza’s right to buy a gun without a simple background check, our federal government has been effectively stripping away local control of schools.

Honestly, there isn’t all that much we can do about it.  45 states have already adopted the Common Core State Standards, and while battles continue in a handful of states over their adoption, in other states the implementation of CCSS is in full swing.  As long as our state governments rely upon federal funding to offset the cost of public schools, people like Bush, Obama and Duncan will be able to circumvent the Constitution and destroy local control of schools.

Ironically, some teachers actually have more freedom to take a gun into the classroom than decide how they will teach.  The insanity of that pretty much speaks for itself.



  1. While a discussion of the federal takeover of education is warranted, couching it in terms of the 10th Amendment is crazy. Take a close look at the Constitution, it’s an outline of the powers of government and little else. However, it includes at least two clauses whereby the feds can assert their power over education. Those clauses are the “general welfare” clause and the “necessary and proper” clause–those clause are, of course, backed by the supremacy clause. So, if the federal government enters the field of education the states would have to back down-unless you’re calling for nullification (which Kansas and Missouri have both recently attempted in the gun debate). Are you really arguing that education standards should be left up the states when Kansas passes bills denying evolution and has now ventured in the climate-change-denying (HB 2306)? If this is the basis of a Kansas child’s education, where can that Kansas child expect to go college? Perhaps the federal government needs to stay out of the education business, but placing that discussion inside the bounds of the 10th Amendment is not the way to make that argument.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I’m confused though, because according to that logic, there is no arena the federal government cannot enter and “back down” the states.

      1. A close reading of American history since the New Deal would pretty much indicate the truth of your statement. The federal government has expanded exponentially at the expense of state power since the 1930s. The argument should be a 5th and 14th amendment right to education which would put educational decisions in the hands of individuals not state or federal governments.