BIPPS’ Richard Innes will now talk education with Mandy Connell tonight at 7:05 PM Eastern time tonight. Tune in to WHAS radio 840 to hear the show.
It’s appropriate that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ personal act of nullification in the form of refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay couples occurred in the state that passed the most-adamant resolution in American history supporting invalidation of the federal government’s attempts to assume powers not granted it by the Constitution.
The Kentucky Resolution penned in 1798 by founding giant Thomas Jefferson was a response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, which created unconstitutional hardships for legal immigrants and made it a crime to “print, utter, or publish … any false, scandalous, and malicious writing” about the federal government.
Those who hold the dangerous view that no legitimate cause for concern exists about an overreaching federal judiciary into our states or individual lives – and who want you to believe nothing could be done about it anyhow – often take that position because it best suits their personal political or cultural agenda.
Such thinking led to implementation of the Alien and Sedition Acts as the U.S. approached the brink of war with France during John Adams’ presidency.
The Federalists, Adams’ political party, wanted to quell criticism of the president’s policies by the Democratic-Republicans – the other major political party – while fearing immigrants living in the U.S. might side with France.
These trepidations resulted in the Acts being used exclusively against Americans associated with the Democratic-Republicans. The only journalists prosecuted under the Sedition Act, for example, were editors of Democratic-Republican newspapers.
It’s not unlike what’s currently happening in the culture war.
Critics of clerk Davis vociferously defend Federal Judge David Bunning for jailing her for refusing to acquiesce to a U.S. Supreme Court opinion disallowing gay-marriage bans – including the prohibition against such unions placed in the Kentucky Constitution by 75 percent of voters barely a decade ago.
“She broke the law,” they screech.
Yet these same zealots were previously silent while elected officials like former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome unlawfully issued gay-marriage licenses long before the practice was legalized.
Newsome gets a pass because his views were politically correct – if not lawful – ones.
Our founders surely didn’t intend for five unelected Supreme Court jurists to nullify the wishes of 1.2 million Kentuckians by overriding this commonwealth’s Constitution.
“The Constitution has erected no such tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruption of time and party, its members would become despots,” Jefferson wrote.
Even Kentucky native and wartime President Abraham Lincoln – who once suspended habeas corpus – warned of the consequences of surrendering power to the Supreme Court.
“If the policy of government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court… the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government into the hands of the eminent tribunal,” Lincoln said.
Jefferson also adamantly warned against the dangers of allowing the judiciary to usurp unjustified authority.
“To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions is a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy,” he penned.
The Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which supporters of Bunning’s misguided decision will note, allows federal laws to trump state laws – but only if Congress is acting within its constitutionally authorized powers.
Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution empower federal courts to change marriage or discard a state’s Constitution and unilaterally enact opposing legislation.
At the very least, Section 5 of the 14th Amendment, upon which the Supreme Court’s majority based its gay-marriage opinion, gives Congress the “power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”
Until Congress or the Kentucky General Assembly acts, any constitutionally honest person must acknowledge that Davis acted in accordance with our commonwealth’s Constitution – unless we’re going to allow five unelected, unaccountable jurists in funny looking black robes to trash our guiding document on a cultural whim.
In which case, the Kentucky Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
This is precisely the type of situation for which nullification – as expressed in the Kentucky Resolution – was created.
Bluegrass Institute’s staff education analyst, Richard Innes, guest subs for Jim Waters on Bluegrass Mondays @ 7:05 p.m. on Louisville’s NewsRadio 840 WHAS-AM with popular talk-show host Mandy Connell.
Open Meetings violations, scrambled statistics and scary social studies, Oh My!
Mandy and Dick will talk some hot education topics you’re not hearing about anywhere else.
Find out why former Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday was looking over his shoulder for BIPPS as he headed out of Kentucky.
Check out who is mixing their apples and oranges with important education statistics.
Discover which wars someone thinks your kids don’t need to learn about in school.
Join us Monday!
Well, now here’s a real shocker about Kentucky’s pension-investment expenses: “Kentucky’s pension plan for public employees says that its annual investment expenses are running 75 percent higher than reported in previous years,” reports the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.
Included in the report is analysis by former KRS trustee Chris Tobe, who, as reporter James McNair reports: “KRS has squandered pensionholders’ money by paying high fees for riskier investments with lower returns than unmanaged stock market index funds,” and that “KRS’ investment underperformance of the last five years comes to about $1.5 billion, a third of which stems from hidden fees.”
Public retirees and state workers should be very concerned that so many dollars in the troubled Kentucky Retirement Systems are being sucked up just in spending related to investing their retirement dollars.
Education Week reports in “One Set of PARCC Test Results, Two Different Descriptions in Ohio” that Ohio’s state education department just decided to use its own scoring scale on the Common Core aligned PARCC tests. The impact will be enormous. EdWeek says that in Ohio:
“…on the 4th grade English/language arts exam in PARCC, only 37 percent of students met or exceeded PARCC’s expectations for performance on the exam. Yet Ohio will report that 69 percent of students were proficient or better on the test.”
That gross inflation is going to make a lot of parents in Ohio feel good. However, this decimates a major Common Core selling point that using common national standards would lead to each state’s own assessments producing scores that could be directly compared to the other states’ assessment results.
Ohio’s action makes it abundantly clear that this Common Core promise is on the rocks, but Ohio isn’t the only state monkeying with supposedly common testing from Common Core. Washington State, which is a member of the other new Common Core test consortium, the SBAC, says it won’t use the SBAC’s own grading scales to determine who graduates from high school, either.
Supposedly common tests with uncommon scoring — it’s a major Common Core fail!
Critics of GOP gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin want to use his spot-on statement about a huge, costly and ineffective government-run preschool program to paint him as being opposed to any and all early childhood education.
Bevin pointed out on KET’s “Kentucky Tonight” during this year’s primary campaign that Head Start – the nation’s largest taxpayer-funded preschool program – “is not working the way we’re doing it.”
That got translated by his detractors – both in the political arena and among some media outlets – as: “Matt Bevin is opposed to early childhood education.”
Questioning the effectiveness of a program for which American taxpayers shell out $8 billion annually doesn’t automatically stretch into opposition to early childhood education in general.
However, this tactic does illustrate a strategy often employed by progressives – and not just with political candidates.
If, for example, you support giving parents more choices for their children beyond a traditional public school, don’t be surprised if you’re branded: “out to destroy public education.”
Such labeling – intended to protect the status quo and misrepresent new ideas – isn’t limited to education policy.
Those who support giving individual workers the option of choosing whether labor-union membership is best for them are “union busters.”
Those who question the Environmental Protection Agency’s moronic regulations are “for dirty air and contaminated water.”
But what, I wonder, do these critics label those researchers who produce myriad reports indicating that – as Bevin noted – “third grade and above, there is no measurable difference between a child who came through Head Start and a child that did not?”
His is the same conclusion reached by the other side of the political aisle in a 2012 study by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
The Hechinger Report – by no means a right-wing project – notes that only one of 90 different studies examining the effectiveness of the Head Start program met acceptable research standards for scientific rigor.
That study, Hechinger notes – using work done by the technically oriented What Works Clearinghouse – “showed rather disappointing results. It found that Head Start had ‘potentially positive effects’ on general reading achievement and ‘no discernible effects’ on mathematics and social-emotional development for 3-year-old and 4-year-old children.”
At the very least, this is thin evidence to blindly support a huge investment like the $8 billion made annually in Head Start.
We’ve heard lots of clamoring from Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration about expanding state spending on its preschool programs. Yet even within Kentucky’s borders, there’s reasonable doubt about whether sufficient bang is produced for all of those early childhood bucks.
A stir was generated by a report presented to the Kentucky Board of Education in 2012 showing only 25 percent of the state’s entering kindergartners are ready for school.
Those results were based on preliminary data from a pilot project that tested 34,500 – or about two-thirds of children entering kindergarten.
While the report didn’t indicate precisely what proportion of the unprepared students were in early childhood programs, it’s a pretty good bet many were considering around 30,000 children across the commonwealth attend preschool.
It’s not a coincidence that many of those who both attack Bevin and advocate for bigger government early childhood educational programs are adamantly opposed to giving Kentucky parents school choice.
In fact, school-choice opponents’ strategy is one of distraction by making the discussion about Head Start’s funding – or some other financial issue – rather than the educational performance of all children.
“Every single metric that has ever looked at it, including those done by the government itself in order to justify it and those looking at it from the outside trying to justify why it doesn’t work, everyone has come to the same conclusion – that third grade and above, there is no measurable difference between a child who came through Head Start and a child that did not,” Bevin said.
Let me know if you find a single credible study in this entire nation that disagrees.
I’m waiting …