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Is Constitution Day Unconstitutional? (Dan Lips)

America’s schools and universities recently marked the birth of the U.S. Constitution by complying with a federal mandate to teach about America’s most important document. But the congressionally-directed celebration may turn out to be a lesson in irony-at least in one Nebraska high school.

Congress created Constitution Day in 2004 when Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) inserted a provision into an appropriations bill to require that all schools and universities receiving federal funding to celebrate “Constitution and Citizenship Day” by holding an educational program on the U.S. Constitution on September 17. (This year, the 17 falls on a Sunday, and so the government granted schools leeway to hold the lessons this week.)

Few would disagree that it is important for students and citizens to understand our founding principles and American history. But Senator Byrd’s amendment stands at odds with the Constitution, and one public school teacher in Lincoln, Nebraska, has picked up on this irony and is sharing it with his students.

David Nebel’s AP Politics and Government class will comply with the federal mandate by considering whether the federal mandate is constitutional, reports Margaret Reist in the Lincoln Journal Star. Students will review the Constitution and write papers arguing for or against the mandate’s constitutionality. In the spirit of “Citizenship Day,” students are encouraged to send letters and a copy of their essays to their Nebraska senators and Sen. Byrd.

Now that’s making the Constitution come alive, even if it’s not exactly what Sen. Byrd intended.

Congress itself could benefit from a similar exercise. The Constitution provides strong guidance on which powers are delegated to Congress and the federal government and which powers are left to the states and people. It does not grant Congress any explicit role in education. Indeed, the word “education” does not appear anywhere in the Constitution.

But the

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Two Parents Take On the Union (Ben DeGrow)

In their ongoing battle to preserve the education status quo, teachers union officials often find an advantage in sophisticated public relation campaigns.

The side of union officials you don’t observe over the airwaves, however, is the arrogant belief that their narrow political agenda merits special protected status in our taxpayer-funded places of learning.

From its vast resources of member dues, the Colorado Education Association (CEA) finances radio and television ads designed to convince the general public that the organization only cares for kids and knows best how to help them learn.

But cracks in the public image veneer may soon grow larger, as election season has brought out a less seemly side of union leaders. The need to win votes for their candidates and causes must be too compelling. Political power and close alliances with other unions and advocacy groups have trumped both the sanctity of schools and respect for parents and taxpayers.

CEA has to walk a fine line. Teachers and other education employees in Colorado are free to join or not to join a membership organization. Roughly two-thirds of them belong to CEA for a variety of reasons, and some ardently back the political agenda. Many others support collective bargaining but ignore or reject the politics, or they stay aboard for the liability insurance and grievance protections.

Some Colorado teachers go their own way and join an alternative organization or none at all. Witnessing the union’s behavior in at least one school district, more might be convinced to join them. 

Last Friday, the CEA-affiliated Poudre Education Association (PEA)—representing K-12 teachers in the northern Colorado university town of Fort Collins—fired the latest salvo in an ongoing struggle to protect their assumed schoolhouse privileges.

Even after legal hearings and local media attention exposed earlier political abuses, PEA used the schools’ interoffice mail system during school

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The Indian Education Deficit (Shruti Rajagopalan)

The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.

-Article 21A, Constitution of India 

The Indian government, often known for its corruption, bureaucracy and socialist leanings, has not been very successful or efficient when it comes to providing the universal and free education that the constitution now guarantees as a fundamental right to all citizens.

One would imagine that Third World governments don’t spend much on education, but education in India receives substantial funding, both state and federal. From 2001 to 2005 the government spending on education approximated 4-6% of the GDP.  Clearly, the problem with education in India and the poor quality of public schools has more to do with the government regulation than lack of funding.

This poor quality of government education has given rise to a large market for private education offered by excellent institutions. Not surprisingly, the fee in a private school is often less than half of the per-pupil costs in a government-run school which has huge administrative costs. In a public school in New Delhi the average per pupil cost has been estimated approximately at Rs.10,000 ($220) per annum and the private schools in the territory of Delhi offer much better quality of education at about half the cost, a trend also witnessed in the United States. In a study by James Tooley and Pauline Dixon, the reasons for such high costs have been attributed to personnel costs and administrative costs for the upkeep of the entire education bureaucracy. The study has managed to encompass education in India: too much government spending, too much regulation, large bureaucracies, stifling of private entrepreneurship and exploitation of the common man.

The other problem is that despite the

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