By Israel Teitelbaum
The result of the presidential election, and comments by many of our leaders, point to a new interpretation of civil rights that conflicts with its original meaning. The first official American document claiming this right is the Declaration of Independence, which reads in part, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
This has now come to mean that babies may be killed at birth, parental rights overridden by the state, and property rights ignored. Special privileges may, and ought to, be granted to activist groups wielding political pressure. The question needs to be asked: How did we arrive at this station?
The obvious answer is that our children are not being taught the principles of our founding. They are being told that the Constitution is “elastic” and can be stretched to mean whatever you wish. This has resulted in our courts finding new clauses in the Constitution, such as: Congress may pass no law prohibiting the killing of babies as they are being born; Government may compel you to sell your home to another at a price determined by the state; Liberty does not include the right of parents to choose the education that best meets the needs of their children. An entire new set of values has replaced the Constitution with modern-day psychobabble.
Where in the U.S. Constitution is government granted these powers? The Preamble reads: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The failure of government to allow for the “blessings of liberty,” which precludes government from financially coercing parents to send their children to government run schools, is where we left the track!
The late, great economist Milton Friedman wrote in his 1955 article The Role of Government in Education, “We have seen that both the imposition of a minimum required level of education and the financing of education by the state can be justified by the ‘neighborhood effects’ of education. It is more difficult to justify in these terms a third step that has generally been taken, namely, the actual administration of educational institutions by the government, the ‘nationalization,’ as it were, of the bulk of the ‘education industry’…Yet the two steps could readily be separated. Governments could require a minimum level of education which they could finance by giving parents vouchers redeemable for a specified maximum sum per child per year if spent on ‘approved’ educational services. Parents would then be free to spend this sum and any additional sum on purchasing educational services from an ‘approved’ institution of their own choice. The educational services could be rendered by private enterprises operated for profit, or by non-profit institutions of various kinds. The role of the government would be limited to assuring that the schools met certain minimum standards such as the inclusion of a minimum common content in their programs, much as it now inspects restaurants to assure that they maintain minimum sanitary standards. An excellent example of a program of this sort is the United States educational program for veterans after World War II.”
While congratulating ourselves for our great civil rights achievement of November 4, 2008, in electing an African American to the presidency of the USA, we should note that the greatest government sanctioned violation of civil rights today is the denial of parental choice in education. This is what has brought us to this sad day when true civil rights – emancipation from slavery of the mind – has been replaced with new-found rights based on ones complexion or other characteristics.
When our nation’s pundits and leaders express jubilation over this great “civil rights achievement,” it is reminiscent of the naked emperor whose “new clothes” were being enthusiastically admired by everyone. To elect an individual for his color is precisely what the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to end. Every individual was to be judged by his or her character and ability, without regard to race or color.
This distorted view of civil rights is directly due to education being left to bureaucrats, and specifically excluded from the Civil Rights Act. Only housing, employment, travel, entertainment and other public accommodations were protected from discriminatory treatment. Education was specifically excluded by limiting it to public education only. This has allowed for the creation of the enormous educational monopoly, headed by the National Education Association.
It has spawned a new civil rights movement that has replaced the right of parents to raise their children, with the right of government to mold them to their way of thinking, including teaching our children that same-gender marriage is normal and healthy.
Every leftist cause can be traced to the NEA and its intricate web of affiliates and beneficiaries. We cannot begin to recover our constitutional rights until this grave injustice is corrected by passing the Civil Rights Act for Equal Educational Opportunity. This legislation would mandate equitable funding for children attending non-public school, while protecting the liberty of schools in hiring and provision of services. Means of funding and standards would be left to the states and the people, as required by the 10th Amendment.
November 2, 2010 would be a great day to elect a new Congress that will sponsor and pass this legislation and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature.