Call Your Senators Today: “No” on Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA)

“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”
― Mark Twain

And neither are our children.

Following hard on the heels of Independence Day, Congress is once more intent on denying Americans their liberty. This time it’s parental and local control of the education of their children.

Today, July 7th, Senate Bill S.1177 – Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA), will be voted on in the Senate. ECAA, the brainchild of Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), has been touted as a rewrite of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) the educational boondoggle passed in 2001.

Under pressure to get the highly unpopular NCLB legislation reauthorized,  Republican leadership caved to Obama’s demands and agreed to language which expands, not reduces, the influence of the federal government over schools.

American Principles In Action has released a list of 21 fatal problems with ECAA: The Every Child Achieves Project – A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: No Child Left Behind Rewrite Will Drive A National Education Agenda. I remind you there are no less than three federal laws prohibiting a national curriculum, but that hasn’t stopped Congress, Obama, and Erne Duncan from doing an end run around the law. Here are only a few of problems:

5. ECAA adds to the list of federal program a state must consult in developing its plan and requires standards to be aligned with federally approved workforce and early-childhood standards…

8. ECAA contains a requirement for states to “demonstrate” that the state standards are “aligned” to the same criteria used to establish Common Core….Any prohibition included to stop USED from coercing states to use Common Core is meaningless…

14. ECAA removes protection against socioemotional profiling in the statewide assessments (eliminating NCLB’s prohibition against including assessment items that “evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes”) and fails to protect against other psychological data-gathering in any other federal education program covered by ESEA.

Call your Senators today and tell them to vote “No” on S.1177, the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.

Erin Tuttle has more analysis at The Danger in the Details of the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. Phyllis Schlafly, America’s maven of education, as always cuts to the chase with her common sense and plain speaking: GOP to give Obama more power — again?

Not to be outdone by the Senate, Breitbart reports that the House will consider its companion bill, H.R. 5, The Student Success Act (don’t you just love these Orwellian titles?), again this week after being pulled in February because of lack of support. More information on H.R. 5 here and here.

The Capitol switchboard number is 202.224.3121 or go to the following directories:

Truth In American Education twitter:

American Principles In Action twitter:
The video features Dr. Sandra Stotsky, is one of the members of the Common Core validation committee who refused to sign off on Common Core standards. She has written and testified about Common Core.

Calvin Coolidge, July 5, 1926: The 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence

Declaration of IndependenceIt was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history.…Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed….

“…the principles of our Declaration had been under discussion in the Colonies for nearly two generations before the advent of the French political philosophy that characterized the middle of the eighteenth century. In fact, they come from an earlier date. A very positive echo of what the Dutch had done in 1581, and what the English were preparing to do, appears in the assertion of the Rev. Thomas Hooker, of Connecticut, as early as 1638, when he said in a sermon before the General Court that–

The foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people.

The choice of public magistrates belongs to the people by God’s own allowance….

“..”This preaching reached the neighborhood of Thomas Jefferson, who acknowledged that his “best ideas of democracy” had been secured at church meetings….

When we take all these circumstances into consideration, it is but natural that the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence should open with a reference to Nature’s God and should close in the final paragraphs with an appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world and an assertion of a firm reliance on Divine Providence. Coming from these sources, having as it did this background, it is no wonder that Samuel Adams could say “The people seem to recognize this resolution as though it were a decree promulgated from heaven.”

Declaration of Independence: John Trumbull The Committee presents the draft to Congress

Declaration of Independence: John Trumbull
The Committee presents the draft to Congress

No one can examine this record and escape the conclusion that in the great outline of its principles the Declaration was the result of the religious teachings of the preceding period. The profound philosophy which Jonathan Edwards applied to theology, the popular preaching of George Whitefield, had aroused the thought and stirred the people of the Colonies in preparation for this great event. No doubt the speculations which had been going on in England, and especially on the Continent, lent their influence to the general sentiment of the times. Of course, the world is always influenced by all the experience and all the thought of the past. But when we come to a contemplation of the immediate conception of the principles of human relationship which went into the Declaration of Independence we are not required to extend our search beyond our own shores. They are found in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live. They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image, all partakers of the divine spirit.

Pilgrims 1620“Placing every man on a plane where he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government. This was their theory of democracy. In those days such doctrines would scarcely have been permitted to flourish and spread in any other country. This was the purpose which the fathers cherished. In order that they might have freedom to express these thoughts and opportunity to put them into action, whole congregations with their pastors had migrated to the Colonies. These great truths were in the air that our people breathed. Whatever else we may say of it, the Declaration of Independence was profoundly American.

“If this apprehension of the facts be correct, and the documentary evidence would appear to verify it, then certain conclusions are bound to follow. A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if it roots be destroyed. In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man – these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.

“We are too prone to overlook another conclusion. Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation….

“Ours is a government of the people. It represents their will. Its officers may sometimes go astray, but that is not a reason for criticizing the principles of our institutions. The real heart of the American Government depends upon the heart of the people. It is from that source that we must look for all genuine reform. It is to that cause that we must ascribe all our results.

“It was in the contemplation of these truths that the fathers made their declaration and adopted their Constitution. It was to establish a free government, which must not be permitted to degenerate into the unrestrained authority of a mere majority or the unbridled weight of a mere influential few….

Holy Bible“Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meetinghouse. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.
Calvin Coolidge: “Address at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia, Pa.,” July 5, 1926. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

Fourth of July Weekend: “God Bless the USA”

Fourth of July Weekend around the web:

Photo Essays: The Declaration of Independence

As Americans celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend, here’s a look at the men who signed their names to the nation’s most famous founding document, the Declaration of Independence.

The Indispensable Hero of Independence Day by Robert A. J. Gagnon

The Vision of the Founding Fathers by Myron Magnet

July 4, 2015 — The Right Time to Be an American by David French

Founders’ Week, July 1–5, 2012, at Upstream Politics:

The Founders & Christianity

“…the acts and choices of ordinary people…”

John Adams: The Atlas of Independence

The Declaration of Independence

“Rabble in Arms”
Newsbusters’ posted a video of this impromptu singing of “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood and the U.S. Army Chorus. I’ve substituted this video because it has better sound.

1776 & Dark Days

Declaration of Independence Title
On Christmas 2009 I was given a copy of Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fisher. For me this account of Washington crossing the Delaware has become a book for the years of Obama’s presidency, for Fisher’s story is a tale of courage and perseverance in the face of disaster.

To search the writings of the men and women who were there (hundreds of firsthand accounts survive) is to find that they believed the American cause was very near collapse on Christmas night in 1776. In five months of heavy fighting after the Declaration of Independence, George Washington’s army had suffered many disastrous defeats and gained no major victories. It had lost 90 percent of its strength. The small remnant who crossed the Delaware River were near the end of their resources, and they believed another defeat could destroy the Cause, as they called it.1

In the Editor’s Note at the beginning of the book, James McPherson writes:

No single day in history was more decisive for the creation of the United States than Christmas 1776….Of all the pivotal events in American history, none was more important than what happened on those nine days from December 25, 1776, through January 3, 1777.2

This providential span of victories stemmed not only from the character and leadership of George Washington, but also “from the acts and choices of ordinary people.” Fisher says for those Americans:

…Their greatest advantage was the moral strength of a just cause. They were fighting on their own ground, in defense of homes and families, for ideas of liberty and freedom. They had a different test of success. Their opponents had to conquer; the Americans needed only to survive. After the occupation of New Jersey, and British maltreatment of prisoners, Americans became highly motivated by the cruel experience of oppression.

Another strength was their religion. The Americans were a deeply spiritual people, with an abiding faith that sustained them in adversity….

In the dark days of 1776, Americans reached deep into this reservoir of strength and improvised a new way of managing a war….3

Words for today, are they not?

After the last few years, and especially after the last couple of weeks, yesterday I was thinking how hollow it seemed to celebrate the Fourth of July, but then I remembered these words that open Fisher’s last chapter:

On New Year’s Day in 1777, Robert Morris sent George Washington a letter that rings strangely in a modern ear. “The year 1776 is over,” Morris wrote. “I am heartily glad of it and hope you nor America will ever be plagued with such another.” Washington shared that feeling, which was far from our very own. We celebrate 1776 as the most glorious year in American history. They remembered it as an agony, especially the “dark days” of autumn.4

As Americans lived through those dark days of 1776, they had no future perspective of their times. Neither do we as we live through these dark days of coercion and usurpation of power. Do we have “the advantage of the moral strength of a just cause”? We do. Should we call on God to give us an abiding faith in Him that will sustain us in adversity? We should. Fisher writes, “This is a story of real choices that living people actually made.”5 We can make those choices.

Have a glorious Fourth!
1,2,3,4,5David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing (Oxford University Press, New York) 5, ix, 368, 363, 364.

Why Privatizing Marriage Won’t Work

Most of this post was originally published as Government & Marriage: Answering Libertarians. I’m republishing it under a different name because after the Supreme Court ruling on marriage the issue of getting government out of marriage has once more been raised as a solution to the same-sex “marriage” debate. Those who have wanted—and still want—to get government out of the marriage business are in denial of the importance and widespread influence of legal regulation of marriage. Not only that, but the horse has left that barn, and there’s no closing the door now!

To bring this issue up now also reflects a naive lack of understanding of the intent of many leaders and advocates of same-sex “marriage” to use the strong arm of government to impose legal recognition and approval of their lifestyle. And for some advocates Christians have always been in the cross hairs.

As time permits I will do a new post on why privatizing marriage won’t work and include some summaries and analysis of articles by Jennifer Roback Morse (see the bottom of this post), and other authors I have read on the topic. The arguments below are from the original post. Some, while not directly addressing same-sex “marriage,” are nevertheless clearly applicable. Ryan Anderson reiterates parts of the reasoning in Redefine Marriage, Make Government Bigger.

What Is Marriage bookmarked border…marriage—we will show—has enough objective structure apart from spouses’ preferences, to be legally regulated.1

…As we deprive marriage policy of definite shape, we deprive it of public purpose.2

These two statements are from chapter one, “Challenges to Revisionists,” in What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense. In chapter three, “The State and Marriage,” Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert George turn to fully addressing both libertarians and the Left on civil regulation of marriage. (My emphases are in bold).

…some on the libertarian Right say that marriage has no public value, and call for the state to get out of the marriage business altogether. Voices on the Left say that marriage has no distinctive public value; they say that the state may work it like clay, remaking marriage to fit our preferences.3

Their answer is based on the objective structure of marriage and the public value of marriage:

By regulating marriage entry and exit, and by helping and sometimes requiring the government as well as individuals and civic institutions to treat certain groups as a unit, marriage law sends a strong public message about what it takes to make a marriage—what marriage is. This in turn affects people’s beliefs, and therefore their expectations and choices, about their own prospective or actual marriages. The mutual influence of law and culture is confirmed by empirical evidence on the effects of no-fault divorce laws. But if easing the legal obstacles to divorce has had an effect, surely removing even the hassle and stigma of a legal divorce would. The state’s influence on marriage is extensive.

Indeed, it cannot be otherwise. Abolishing civil marriage is practically impossible. Strike the word ‘marriage’ from the law, and the state will still license, and attach duties and benefits to, certain bonds. Abolish these forward-looking forms of regulation, and they will only be replaced by messier, retroactive regulation — of disputes over property, custody, visitation, and child support. What the state once did by efficient legal presumptions, it will then do by burdensome case-by-case assignments of parental (especially paternal) responsibilities.

Signing the Register Edmund Blair LeightonThe state will only discharge these tasks more or less efficiently — that is, less or more intrusively. It can’t escape them. Why not? Because the public functions of marriage — both to require and to empower parents (especially fathers) to care for their children and each other — require a society-wide coordination. It is not enough if, say, a particular religion presumes a man’s paternity of his wife’s children, or recognizes his rights and duties toward their mother; or if the man and his wife contract to carry out certain tasks. For private institutions can bind only their own; private contracts bind only those who are party to them. A major function of marriage law is to bind all third parties (schools, adoption agencies, summer camps, hospitals; friends, relatives, and strangers) presumptively to treat a man as father of his wife’s children, husbands and wives as entitled to certain privileges and sexually off-limits, and so on. This only the state can do with any consistency.

But more than inevitable or necessary, it is fitting that the state should do this. Consider a comparison. Why don’t even the strictest libertarians decry traffic laws? Firstly, orderly traffic protects health and promotes efficiency, two great goods. Second, these goods are common in two senses: private efforts cannot adequately secure them, and yet failure to secure them has very public consequences. It is not as if we would have had the same (or even just slightly less) safety and efficiency of travel if people just did as they pleased, some stopping only at red lights and others only at green. Nor would damage from the resulting accidents (and slower shipments, etc.) be limited to those responsible for causing it. To ensure safe and efficient travel at all, and to limit harm to third parties, we need legal coordination. Indeed, it is no stretch to say that the state owes its citizens to keep minimum security and order: to these we have a right. Finally, unlike private associations, the state can secure these goods, without intolerable side effects. All this makes it appropriate for the state to set our traffic laws.

In an essay solely on political theory, we might argue the details, but here we can extract from this example a widely acceptable rule: If something would serve an important good, if people have a right to it, if private groups cannot secure it well, everyone suffers if it is lost, and the state can secure it without undue cost, then the state may step in — and should.

All these conditions are met in the case of marriage.4

They undergird their argument by citing the benefits of marriage both to family members and to society at large. Marriage “tends to help spouses financially, emotionally, physically, and socially,”5 and children thrive best when reared by their married biological parents.6 Marriage also “helps create wealth, helps the poor especially, and checks state power.”7 Those benefits however, are based marriage as the conjugal union of a man and a woman. We’ve lost a great deal through SCOTUS redefining the legal definition of marriage, but that’s for a later post.

Diamond Border

Related articles by Jennifer Roback Morse at The Witherspoon Institute Public Discourse:

The Heritage Foundation pamphlet, What You Need To Know About Marriage: Questions and Answers Driving the Debate, contains some of the same information and reasoning found in What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense. I highly recommend it as an overview of its main points.
1,2,3,4,5,6,7Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert George, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (Encounter Books, New York NY: 2012) 16, 21, 37, 40–41, 44, 42–44, 42.
Signing the Register: Edmund Blair Leighton.