Bigger government is more lawless

March 11, 2012


— Two policies of the Obama administration illustrate an axiom: As government expands, its lawfulness contracts. Consider the administration’s desire to continue funding UNESCO and to develop a national curriculum for primary and secondary education.

In 1994, Congress stipulated that no U.S. funds shall go to “any affiliated organization” of the U.N. “which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.” Last October, UNESCO (the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) voted to confer membership on Palestine. Although there are waiver provisions in most laws restricting executive discretion in foreign relations, the 107 national delegations that voted to extend membership to Palestine were told there is no such provision in the pertinent law. The United States immediately cut off funding, which is 22 percent of UNESCO’s budget.

But President Obama’s 2013 budget seeks $78,968,000 for UNESCO, and says: “The Department of State intends to work with Congress to seek legislation that would provide authority to waive restrictions on paying the U.S. assessed contributions to UNESCO.” The administration regards the 18-year-old statute as an evanescent inconvenience — that Congress will obediently tug its forelock and grant a waiver provision enabling the executive branch to slip the leash of law.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education is pretending that three laws do not mean what they clearly say. This is documented in the Pioneer Institute’s report “The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers” by Robert S. Eitel, Kent D. Talbert and Williamson M. Evers, all former senior officials in the Education Department.

The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind is its ninth iteration), which intruded the federal government into this traditionally state and local responsibility, said “nothing in this act” shall authorize any federal official to “mandate, direct, or control” a state’s, local educational agency’s or school’s curriculum. The General Education Provisions Act of 1970, which supposedly controls federal education programs, stipulates that “no provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize” any federal agency or official “to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction” or selection of “instructional materials” by “any educational institution or school system.”

The 1979 law establishing the Education Department forbids it from exercising “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum” or “program of instruction” of any school or school system. The ESEA as amended goes further: No funds provided to the Education Department “may be used ... to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed to be used in” grades K through 12.

However ...

What authors Eitel, Talbert and Evers call the Education Department’s “incremental march down the road to a national curriculum” begins with the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS). It is not an initiative of any state legislature, but of a governors’ association, state school officials and some private foundations. This push for a national curriculum advanced when the Race to the Top Fund (RTTT, part of the 2009 stimulus) said that peer reviewers of applications for money should favor those states that join a majority of states in developing and adopting common standards. The 11 states and the District of Columbia that won Race to the Top funding had adopted or indicated an intention to adopt the CCSS, which will require changes in curricula.

An Education Department synopsis of discussions with members of the public about priorities in competition for RTTT money says “the goal of common K-12 standards is to replace the existing patchwork of state standards.” Progressives celebrate diversity in everything but thought.

The Obama administration is granting conditional waivers to states chafing under No Child Left Behind’s unrealistic accountability requirements. The waivers are contingent on each state adopting certain standards “that are common to a significant number of states,” or the state may adopt standards endorsed by its institutions of higher education — if those standards are consistent with the Education Department’s guidelines. We have been warned. Joseph Califano, secretary of health, education and welfare in the Carter administration, noted that “in its most extreme form, national control of curriculum is a form of national control of ideas.”

Here again laws are cobwebs. As government becomes bigger, it becomes more lawless. As the regulatory state’s micromanagement of society metastasizes, inconvenient laws are construed — by those the laws are supposed to restrain — as porous and permissive, enabling the executive branch to render them nullities.  

— George Will is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

And yet, without a consistent national curriculum of some sort, or consistent national testing standards, we can't guarantee that all children in the US will receive the education we want them to receive.

Perhaps national standardized tests would be more aligned with the legislation Will mentions, leaving the issue of how local schools operate to them.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

So, is the United States borrowing money from foreign creditors to pay for "22 percent of UNESCO’s budget"?

Good one. No wonder the United States is broke.

The really wonderful thing about the United States funding the Palestinians is that we helped them to pay for about 120 rockets to be fired into Israel within the last week.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

I think that if they can afford to pay for their own rockets, they should be able to pay for their own textbooks too.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Which killed no one. But the $billions that US taxpayers give to Israel every year have killed at least 18 Palestinians, some of them kids and other civilians, in the last few days.

But they aren't really people to you, are they Ron?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

Here is a fourth grade math question in a Palestinian school financed by UNESCO:

If you open a math book of the fourth grade of a Palestinian school, you learn that “if a shahid, a martyr, on a bus can kill fifteen Jews, how many Jews can be killed by three martyrs on a train?”

Clipped from: http://www.ruthfullyyours.com/2011/09/30/mark-tapson-jordan-is-palestine-arieh-eldads-two-state-solution/

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Yea, and why do Palestinian kids need an education, anyway? After all, their only purpose in life is as target practice for the IDF.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

Come on.

That's a horrifying math problem, isn't it?

Much as the home schooling examples in this country were.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

If this is a widespread problem, then it needs to addressed and corrected.

But allowing Israel to conduct its siege of Gaza/Palestinians through UNESCO is even more unacceptable.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

I'd be interested to know if there are similar examples in Israeli textbooks.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

Also, there was no citation - that was simply a statement made by a strongly nationalistic Israeli politician.

Any primary sources showing that he is correct?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

You were willing to believe the negative about Israel, assigning blame for WW III to them. Why now the skepticism? Double standards could be considered less than objective?

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

The quote you're referring to was written by an Israeli, and included the name, so that you could go and see if it was accurate.

It was written about Israel, not Palestine.

That's quite different from this one, which is written by a strongly nationalistic Israeli about Palestinian schools.

The equivalent to that would have been if a Palestinian said Israel was planning to take the world out - I would have questioned that as well.

Do you really think I (or anybody) should simply accept as gospel truth what one side says about the other here?

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

Also, see my post to bozo, in which I criticize this, if it's a real example.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

"If" being the operative word. Your quote on the other thread was definitive.
Whatever, I don't wish to belabor the point. Think what you will. Write what you want. My only suggestion would be that you take a deep breath, think about the points I've made about objectivity.
Either way, I still enjoy the chats. :-)

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

Glad to hear it.

You got pretty heated for a bit there.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 2 months ago

George Bush expanded the US Government by getting us into two wars. Granted, Afganistan was justified, but Iraq was not. Bush then suspended long standing prohibitions on torture of prisoners of war.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, has reduced the size of government. I don't know enough about these two overreaching examples by George Will. However, this is his best examples about increasing lawlessness of government.

Jesus, conservatives will state anything. The mind numbingly dumb herds of people that watch Fox News will believe anything.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

Repubs are all about big government and lawlessness....

For openers...

  1. TABOR is Coming by Grover Norquist and Koch Bros. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

  2. The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist(Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion) http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  3. Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers under Bush/Cheney sent the economy out the window costing taxpayers many many trillions. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  4. 3 financial institutions were at risk so why $700 billion of bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

And that tax cuts do nothing to make an economy strong or produce jobs.

  1. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts - The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

In end big debt and super duper bailouts were the results which does not seem to bother Republicans, as long as they are in power.

In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

  • Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

  • Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

• Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0111orr.html


How can anyone trust republicans after Iran-Contra Secret Weapons Deal and Nixons Ilegal Spying Crime Spree aka Watergate?

Lying about WMD's In Iraq!

Flap Doodle 6 years, 2 months ago

You keep citing that dollarsandsense article as if it were still true, merrill. It isn't. The current regime's reckless spending knocked that into a cocked hat years ago. How many times have you posted this same drivel?

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