"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Civics Lesson for the Day: Who Writes Legislation? (Hint: It's not the Legislators)

Who writes legislation? That would be a great civics lesson, wouldn't it? Do public schools even teach civics today? I searched the Internet for the answer to that question...who writes legislation?

The first answer that appeared was from govtrackinsider.com and came from ultra-liberal Pete Stark's office. (This is the official who stated the Federal Government could do most anything in this country. Congressman Stark seems to have little regard for the powers granted to the states via the Constitution). The office did a good job of going through the steps of how a bill is crafted, but the "short" answer from the Congressman's office is a bit obtuse for me:

If you want to know who ac­tu­al­ly puts pen to paper, it’s non­par­ti­san staff lawyers who work for Congress who know the ex­it­ing law they are af­fect­ing in­side out. They do that under the di­rec­tion of of­fice staff for Mem­bers of Congress and con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tees, who vet the bill with out­side ex­perts and ad­vo­cates. Some­times those ad­vo­cates (i.e. lob­by­ists) pro­pose changes in the form of leg­isla­tive lan­guage. But did they write the bill? Prob­a­bly not.

Consider the Health Care Bill. How did a new administration roll out a bill more than 2000 pages long in a span of a few months? This blog (Romanticpoet's Weblog) does a thorough job showing the connection of the Apollo Alliance's influence and/or authorship of the bill. The Muckety maps linked in the blog are especially interesting showing how many interests were involved in the passage of the bill. It is common knowledge today and has been admitted by the Apollo Alliance that they did indeed write the Health Care bill AND the Cap and Trade bill. Pete Stark's office got this one wrong. Lobbyists' hands created this bill.

Children are not sacred in this grab for control and we have witnessed the staggering takeover of the educational industry by foundations interested in "helping the children". Bill and Melinda Gates' names keep surfacing while researching the forces behind the sweeping changes awaiting public education. This article in Inside Higher Ed questions why foundations such as Gates' are involved so closely with the Department of Education:

Michael S. McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation, approached the same set of developments, but from the perspective of what he called a "professional skeptic," the natural outgrowth of an organization that takes as its mission the fostering of research about what works, and what doesn't, in education.

In a commentary that was polite yet pointed, McPherson expressed reservations about the change in philanthropic approach that Gates and Lumina have so eagerly embraced. "When we look at this movement" that the "outcomes-based" foundations have joined, "it's not just any old outcome -- it involves changes at the national level in ... government institutions' behavior," he said, referring to public schools and state-supported colleges.

Foundations are "not supposed to be involved in politics," McPherson said, and while he said specifically that he did not think that the charities' advocacy and efforts to "change federal policy" break the law, "it is in tension with the original spirit of what foundations are designed to do: go off and do their own thing," he said.

"This represents a shift from working at the edges to a concerted effort to change the core, working through political avenues," McPherson said. "These are people nobody has voted for.... They hold everybody else accountable but haven't been elected themselves."

Embedded in this article is a link from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). The reporter details the connections between Gates and The Department of Education:

“The Gates program and the Arne Duncan program are pretty much the same program,” Nancy C. Detert, chair of the Education Committee in the Florida Senate, told the New York Times (10/28/09). Mike Petrilli, vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, agrees, telling the Puget Sound Business Journal (5/15/09), “It is not unfair to say that the Gates Foundation’s agenda has become the country’s agenda in education.” The Business Journal noted that as of that date, the Fordham Institute itself had received nearly $3 million in Gates Foundation grants.

Technically, the lobbyists may not have written the bill, but the lobbyists certainly crafted what they wanted in the bill. We've informed readers on this blog who is setting educational policy in Missouri, known as "Vision for Missouri Public Education". It's not the State Board of Education, it's being driven by two educational lobbying groups, Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) and Missouri School Boards' Association (MSBA). Heck, these groups don't even try to hide the fact they are the main groups writing the policy. This is from the "Vision" website:

The Missouri Association of School Administrators and the Missouri School Boards’ Association are undertaking a joint effort to develop a “Vision for Missouri Public Education.” This joint effort will involve school board members and school administrators across the state in developing a comprehensive vision for Missouri’s public schools.

MSBA and MASA represent those charged with legal responsibility for governance and executive leadership of Missouri public schools. The two groups each have developed positions for which we advocate each year, but the groups have not developed a comprehensive vision for public education. The shortfall of state and federal dollars has legislators and state leaders looking to our organizations for leadership and the financial support for public education likely will get worse before it gets better. In the absence of any vision and/or plan, proposals such as vouchers, open enrollment, tuition tax credits, etc. will be seen as alternatives.

While these two groups have been charged with the legal responsibility for governance and executive leadership of MO public schools, I question whether this also gives them the right to write legislation for our students. The goals of their policy is clear: to deny parents the use of vouchers, open enrollment, tuition tax credits or any other plans which would compete with the traditional public school model.

Read the vision plan for Missouri and research into Bill Gates' involvement with the Department of Education. The parallels between groups who dictated health care and cap and trade policies, and the groups who are attempting the takeover of the educational system are striking. They all require complete federal control, punitive measures to the states, individuals, and businesses.

Who writes the legislation in our country today? Groups with special interests with hidden agendas and deep pockets. Remember the quotation linking Gates to the Department of Education:

"This represents a shift from working at the edges to a concerted effort to change the core, working through political avenues," McPherson said."These are people nobody has voted for.... They hold everybody else accountable but haven't been elected themselves."

These are the people currently writing educational policy and legislation to make money off our children and the taxpayers. It's the educational version of the Health Care bill. And that's the sad civics lesson for today.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post.

    “Who writes the legislation in our country today? Groups with special interests with hidden agendas and deep pockets.”

    Slightly off topic, it's this, aside from the principle of the matter, which is one of the main reasons I oppose term limits – the elected representatives are already of lesser importance in their offices, because demands of campaign fundraising and the vast regulatory codes, they already offload most of their legislative work to their staff, and the staff’s (who are more or less permanent fixtures in the capital labor pool) take what direction they do from their ‘boss’, because they hope to get long term political influence through them, and because it’s a pain having to reshuffle whenever an election overturns them.

    But if they know for a fact that their ‘boss’ is going to be replaced in x number of years, that will reduce what little control and influence they hold over them now, the bosses will even more have to look to staffers for pointers on who has the power where, since there’ll be no long term elected officials to show them the ropes, and the staffers will look even more towards the entrenched bureaucracy and lobbyists for fulfilling their ambitions and furthering their own positions and scope of influence, than they do now.

    Far from returning ‘power to the people’, term limits would reduce voters influence in Washington D.C. even more – which is already hard to imagine.

    If we want to make real long term changes, we’ll need to repeal the 17th amendment, reduce, repeal and abolish regulatory agencies, and get central government out of our schools!.


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