Stroke of the Pen, Law of the Land … Again!

by Steve Farrell

The reauthorization of “No Child Left Behind,” President Bush’s pet national education initiative, is stalled in Congress, right where the Constitution specifies all federal laws must have their birth, and if not widely supported, their death.

No matter to Mr. Bush and his “compassionate conservative” administration.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced this week that a comprehensive set of administrative changes to No Child Left Behind will be put in place regardless.

“The Congress, I guess because of the political and legislative climate, has not been able to get a reauthorization under way this year,” Spellings said in an interview. “I know that schools and students need help now, and we are prepared to act administratively.”

I suppose helping schools and students right now, without delay, is where the “compassion” comes in, but where’s the conservatism?

In case Secretary Spelling and President Bush have forgotten, the political and legislative climate that has checked Bush’s centrist education system is the system of mixed government our forefathers devised to ensure a thorough debate takes place before anything becomes law, and if there are enough concerns about an existing law, that it is expunged.

And mind you, No Child Left Behind has plenty of opponents, not just among liberals in Congress, but especially among grass-root Republicans who haven’t forgotten that the Republican platform, not long ago, forcibly declared that a federal Department of Education was key to a plan to “Sovietize” America, key to the present dumbing-down of education, and that the Republican Party would rid us of it.

Sovietizing America is a good description of what is going on here. Never mind whether Spellings’ changes are good or bad; Spellings’ administrative “end-run around” Congress is all about “stroke of the pen, law of the land,” or expanding upon the precedent of President Clinton’s frequent use of pen and ink to circumvent Congress and the states.

Bruce Hunter, a lobbyist for the American Association of School Administrators protested, “This is the boldest sidestep around the Congress that I’ve ever seen. She’s trying to rewrite the law without benefit of congressional action. I’d be surprised if lawmakers let this go.”

Let’s hope they don’t. But will they have a choice? Will Congress stand up and ask this president and his Education czar what ever happened to seeking the consent of the people, and complying with the U.S. Constitution?

Beyond the constitutional issues, this smacks of a bizarre brand of mystic elitism that many have accused this administration of being guilty. Just how is it that the secretary of education “knows” what is best for every state, every county, every township, every school district, and tens of millions of children (who aren’t their children in the first place), is beyond me. Does she divine?

Early on in his administration, President Bush tried a little divination of his own in regards to only one man — never mind a nation — Russian President Vladimir Putin. Divined the president at the time, “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.” He wasn’t, and isn’t.

Reloaded with our technology, wealth, and secrets, Putin has reasserted the communist state with a fascist twist, crushed freedom of speech, kicked out every Christian missionary, fired all the elected governors (replacing them with personal appointees), forged fresh alliances with our enemies, and this day threatens the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.

Better Ms. Spellings (and President Bush, her boss) stick to the Constitution than dictatorially going it alone, or, for goodness sake, practicing the art of “divination,” a Constitution that kept the education of our children in the hands of the states and the people, and all federal lawmaking in the hands of Congress (our representatives). You would think the secretary of education would know that.

Center for Moral Liberalism, President, Steve Farrell, is a pundit with Silver Eddy Award Winner,, Jabber in Chief, at Stiff Right Jab, and the author of the inspirational novel, Dark Rose.

Your comments