Thursday, March 17, 2011

Education Secretary Can't Read Constitution

At a hearing last week, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan was asked a direct question. Like certain other Harvard graduates we know of, Duncan seems blissfully unaware of either the Constitution or the limitations on his own power. He seemed particularly flummoxed, undoubtedly because he graduated magna cum laude. There seems to be an inverse relationship between Harvard achievement and dealing with reality in the Obama administration.

The question was simple: "Where specifically does the Constitution authorize the federal government to be involved in primary and secondary education?" The simple answer, of course, is "nowhere." But one would at least expect a half-hearted attempt from a Harvard grad to explain to us illiterates that it is an "implied power." That trope has been used for decades to expand the intrusive role and stranglehold on curriculum that the federal government has perpetrated on the American people and the States.

Apparently, he didn't even learn that specious argument at Harvard. But if there's one thing that Harvard grads are very adept at--it's dodging questions and changing the subject. Duncan begged the question by responding: "We are obviously a small percent of the overall funding, you know, about 10%." Well, there's a non-sequitur for you. Not only did he fail to explain where the federal government derives its power to interfere in education, but then he tried to minimize the Department's role in our expanding debt by claiming that its unconstitutional use of public money is minimal. Isn't that like being a little pregnant? It's OK to extort funds from the taxpayers with no constitutional authority so long as you stay under a certain percentage of the budget?

When the question was repeated, Duncan went into full spin cycle. In his senior year at Harvard, Duncan clearly took to heart what he learned in "For the Children 101." He begged the question once again by saying: "The vast majority of funding comes at the local level--state and local level. But we have a responsibility to support children who have historically not had those kinds of opportunities--disadvantaged children, poor children, homeless students, children who are English language learners (read: "illegal immigrants") and, more recently we've seen a tremendous amount of reform in the Department." Oh, such as killing the voucher and charter school initiatives in Washington DC?

"But what about your constitutional authorization to use federal funds for education?" Well, third time's the charm. "We have to dramatically improve the quality of education we are providing this country and we can help to continue to reward excellence and encourage it at the local level."

"Yes, but what about the authorization?" Oh, never mind. Getting a Harvard grad to answer a direct question about the Constitution is like asking Bugs Bunny to explain quantum physics. Neither knows anything about the subject, but both feel free to explain it anyway. I often think that if you ask a Harvard grad what time it is, he'll tell you how to make a clock, and he'll get the instructions wrong. But be of good cheer. The Department "only" spent about $107 billion dollars last year on dumbing America down.

27 comments:

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

The other part of the question should be asked. If they are only responsible for 10% then why are they acting like they own it? In business if you only own 10% of a company, you would need 41% cooperation of the of the rest of the owners.

Last time I checked, the owners are the local communities. Also, by extension, the people at large are part owners because of the taxes they spend.

I guess the people sitting around looking all important, don't know about logical sequences. Hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

Joel, the liberal mind and logic are incompatible, don't ya know?

I'm so glad we home school.

TJ

T_Rav said...

Heck, I could be wrong, but with the country drowning in red ink, 10 percent doesn't sound like a small amount at all. More like, it could be the difference between life and death.

Frankly, I don't see why we have a federal Department of Education. Even state education agencies are generally more of an annoyance than a help.

BevfromNYC said...

First, sorry I've been M.I.A. (if anyone noticed). Finally made to the good ol' state of Texas for a little vaca! I'm now in a place where even the Liberal theatre community is conservative where it counts.

So, isn't DC a "federal" city? So, if the Dept of Education hasn't been able to raise the implied Constitutionally mandated level of education in a Federal city, how do we expect them to do that across America? Theoretically, shouldn't DC schools be the shining model of perfection for ALL school systems emulate?

AndrewPrice said...

Welcome back Bev, of course we missed you! :-)

Congrats on the vaca! Sounds like it's time to find an umbrella for your drinks!

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: That's far too logical for a Harvard man to understand. What a concept! The people who are paying for it getting to make the rules and decide how to spend the money. It'll never happen. LOL

LawHawkRFD said...

TJ: Home-schooling is admirable and arduous. I commend you. Sadly, it doesn't change the fact that your taxes are still going for public school indoctrination with damned little education to go with it.

LawHawkRFD said...

T_Rav: Remember, I switched parties in 1994 in large part because the Contract With America promised to eliminate the Department of Education. Instead, after his election Bush clasped hands with underwater motorist Ted Kennedy and produced the "No Loser Left Behind" boondoggle.

As a result of a Jerry Brown-era (the 70s) state Supreme Court decision, all California school taxes are collected locally, then must be sent to Sacramento where the State Board of Education decides how to distribute the funds. So, the shooting galleries and drug dens called public schools in South Central Los Angeles and East Oakland receive nearly nine times as much per pupil as the top-performing districts of Simi Valley, Las Virgenes and Beverly Hills. That proves how well redistribution of wealth works, and it's only worse when done on the federal level.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Hawk
Where do these people come from? The Constitution is far shorter than the bo health care bill. I was introduced to the Constitution in elementary school. Granted it's real importance was not appreciated at that age but at least we were taught that it existed. High school was where it's importance was learned in another class,namely history. I don't think any of bo's choices to populate the administration know any history anyway.
Of course the importance of picking college basketball winners does foreshadow such mundane things as our country's health.
In the index to our Constitution there is no education in the "E" list. Electoral College,Equal protection of laws, Ex post facto laws and Extradition of fugitives by states is all I could find.
Of course bo wants to erase the second amendment as well so obviously none of his bunch honor their swearing to uphold and protect the Constitution.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: Welcome back.

Let's not forget that the feds killed the voucher program that the DC residents had pleaded for, and then they fired the first superintendent in six decades who was actually improving the schools. As educators, the feds make great demolitions experts.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Texas's refusal to go along with the liberal program in nearly every area of endeavor is a very healthy sign. Let's hope it's contagious. We're seeing early signs in Wisconsin, Ohio and others. But as we've also seen, the left is in full battle mode.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: To paraphrase a dictum of the twelve-step programs, "the Constitution is simple, but it's not easy." The concept that the federal government is strictly limited, including a specific list of the only acts permissible, is absolute anathema to progressives. Individual rights and independent States stand in the way of government by fiat. As soon as they get done burning Bibles, the left will move on to burning the Constitution.

The Preamble to the Constitution includes the broad phrase "promote the general welfare" on which the progressives have hung their hats. They didn't notice that everything that follows the Preamble amounts to: "And here's how we're going to do that." The "how to do it" portion limits the federal government, and leaves most decisions to the States and the people. Besides, it's easier for liberals to memorize one short Preamble than it is to read and understand the actual Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Lawhawk, that is a drawback, however, at least my kids are not the ones being indoctrinated.

TJ

Kosh said...

We've always been at war with Eastasia.

LawHawkRFD said...

TJ: It's worth the sacrifice, and at least you know what you're children are learning.

The latest exercise in political-correctness is the revisionist version of the Three Little Pigs. Children in public schools will no longer learn that evil (the big bad wolf) can be defeated by good (diligence and hard work). The villain doesn't get his just desserts in the end. Instead, the big bad wolf has a stroke (or something), the three pigs (even the ones who built houses easily blown down with a huff and a puff) save the wolf, and they start talking to each other. It turns out that the big bad wolf isn't bad at all, just misunderstood. The problem was simply a lack of communication.

Kitty Kelly, bring me my barf bag.

LawHawkRFD said...

Kosh: And as always, Oceana will prevail on all fronts.

Anonymous said...

Lawhawk, ugghh - barf bag is right!

I remember listening to Sean Hannity on the radio a couple of years ago where he does his "man in the street" interviews. It was the 4th of July and they had asked an elementary school teacher which war the U.S. commemorates on that day. Her answer was, get this, the Civil War. Of course, she said it with a question in her voice. If that is an example of some of the teachers we have in this country, we are in way more trouble than we realize.

I also discovered last year that my state (NC) is changing their history (or social studies) curriculum to only cover 1870 forward, which conveniently leaves out the Founding Fathers, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Unbelievable!!

TJ

BevfromNYC said...

TJ - There was study a few years ago of recent Harvard graduates and their grasp of basic American history. One of the questions was what decade was Lincoln President. DECADE, not even years! Most could not answer correctly. They couldn't muster up "1860's"! Some of them couldn't even put him in the right CENTURY! Harvard!! Uggh...

LawHawkRFD said...

TJ: The abysmal ignorance of the bulk of public school/union teachers is beyond belief. It goes on from there. UC Berkeley seniors were asked some very basic questions about five years ago, and considerably more than 50% couldn't place Afghanistan on a world map, get the right decade for the Civil War, identify the Articles of Confederation, or name the President of the United States during World War I.

Still, nearly all could identify a picture of Beyonce, and a large majority were sure that America entered World War I when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. And that's an elite school. I'm not sure they could even answer the old gag question: "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?" But after all--look who taught them in elementary and secondary school.

Writer X said...

For all the billions this country spends on education, we should be a nation of geniuses. Arne Duncan and the Dept. of Education are everything that's wrong with the educational system. The more government gets involved (and the more $$ that are spent), the worse the education gets.

I'd like to see Arne Duncan as a contestant on ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A FIFTH GRADER? That would make for some good laughs.

T_Rav said...

Bev, I'm glad you're back. Because I have a bone to pick with Management about this ban on shooting kittens in the face...

LawHawkRFD said...

WriterX: The fifth-graders would win in a walk. It takes years of higher education to undo the basics that actual parents teach their children.

LawHawkRFD said...

T_Rav: We're watching.

BevfromNYC said...

T-Rav - You'll need to take your grievances up with "The Management" who specifically stated that they weren't me! Remember "definitely NOT BevfromNYC"!

However, I will be more than happy to plead your kitten murder grievance before "The Management" for reconsideration. I am sure that at some point they will meet to discuss your grievance and render their final decision "in due course". If I were you, I would wait patiently by your mailbox for any decision...

StanH said...

“I would rather be governed by the first three hundred names in the Boston telephone book than by the Faculty of Harvard University…”

William F. Buckley: Pretty much says it all. They’ve put out anti-American jerks for decades.

Tennessee Jed said...

Happy St. Patty's Day, Hawk: Unconstitutional as it may be, as Nixon once said, "it will probably hard to get the toothpaste back in the tube.

My only other question (riddle me this) (no, no not Rumplestilskin, damn it) Who walked further on the picket lines in Wisconsin, you or B.O.

a) you b) b.o. c) tie, neither of you walked even a yard

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: Buckley was a Yalie, of course. So his Whiffenpoof prejudice may have been showing. But just to show how much more sophisticated than Bill Buckley I am, I would add "or any Ivy League school, or any University of California campus, or pretty much any major university." I'm nothing if not inclusive. LOL

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