If you were to ask most Americans what the highest level of government is, they would probably tell you the Federal Government. What’s the next highest level of government? They’d more than likely mention State governments and so-on “down” the list of governing entities until they began listing their city council or school board.
This is unfortunate.
In our Declaration of Independence, the Founders set out to describe the philosophical basis for the genesis of the United States and made the following two statements:
- In the Declaration’s preamble, the Founders wrote: “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.” What is most often not emphasized in schools is the next sentence which reads, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”
- In the final paragraph, the document is summed up thusly: “We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America…appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…”
The Founders made it very clear that primary sovereignty in our nation is recognized as coming from the Creator to the individual and that his/her household grants some of these powers to the States, which in turn grant some of these powers to the Federal Government. The highest form of government in the U.S. was understood by our Founders to be self-governing People. This is completely the opposite what most of us learned in school or is currently being taught.
Lawyers, the political class, and well-meaning teachers and social scientists will inform you of the way it currently works and point to case law and recent tradition to back up current practice. They’ll say Federal law supersedes state law and, therefore, the Federal Government has primacy over States. They may tout “Judicial Supremacy” as settled legal principle. I would counter that just because we have allowed ourselves to forget our Founding Principles doesn’t mean they aren’t still “self-evident” and endowed upon us by our Creator. Just because our inalienable rights aren’t recognized doesn’t mean we do not still have them. We need to recover the rights of States and ensure the States respect the right of their People to exercise their liberty as allowed under the State’s own Constitution. A “this-is-how-it-works-today” argument isn’t going to cut it anymore.
Our nation’s Constitution is very much in line with the intent of the Declaration to respect the sovereignty of the family and protect us from an over-reaching Federal Government. This is why the only two powers expressly given the Federal Government are the regulation of interstate trade (basically, to be an objective arbiter between states) and the ability to organize a common defense.
By default, then, an issue like education falls within the states’ responsibilities to oversee. Given that the States, not the Federal Government, have authority on an issue like education, States have the burden of treading as lightly as possible on parental rights and respecting the role of parents as the primary educators and guardians of their children.
This healthy respect for parents and self-government has been dramatically perverted.
Examples of the current system showing disdain for parental rights are numerous. Consider the Federal Department of Education’s ability to side-step the law and its charter prohibiting it from mandating education policy on states. Instead they extort cash-strapped states by mandating adoption of programs (Common Core State Standards, for example) in order to obtain a waiver from NCLB (which directly impacts funding). Consider local examples like the school official in Illinois who forced high school freshmen into signing confidentiality agreements to participate in “orientation panels” where homosexual senior students indoctrinated incoming freshmen about issues of sexual orientation. These were closed to parents! Kids were forced to sign agreements that they wouldn’t share what they heard with their own parents…in a public school!
Failure to adequately respect family sovereignty, local control, and State’s rights is systemic and has to be rectified if we are going to maintain our liberty. What can we do? Get involved.
One place to start is the American Principles Project. Their “Preserve Innocence Initiative” is working nationwide and has offices in Iowa, South Carolina, and D.C. committed to preserving parental rights, religious liberty, and equal opportunities in education for all.
Here are some of the ways Preserve Innocence Iowa will be looking to protect individual liberty and the sovereignty of the family. We’ll be working to:
- Enact a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) or Conscience Protection Act as many other states have done.
- Enhance curriculum transparency and allow private schools to opt out of requirements that violate their missions.
- Enact legislation allowing for independent accreditation of private schools.
- Reverse the trend toward state curriculum (Iowa Core Curriculum) and the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
- Empower parents to choose the type of education that best meets the needs of their children, regardless of their income or address.
- Ensure that public policy respects the mission of private charities, schools, and homeschool families.
- Protect the right to life from conception to natural death.
The power of our Republic is in you. We can make a difference. Please join the effort and stay in the loop by visiting our website. If you sign up to receive updates, we’ll be offering opportunities to get involved very soon.
Please stand with me and a growing number of others in demanding a government that respects the founding American principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of God; the Author of happiness.
Eric has more than sixteen years’ experience in state government and nonprofit organizations including the roles of Development Director at Iowa Christian Academy and Des Moines radio station Q99.5 KZZQ/Pulse 99.5. Eric has also worked in Governor Terry Branstad’s office during his fourth term and in the Division of Criminal Investigation. Eric ran for Iowa State House in 2004.Eric serves as a Curriculum Committee Member at the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, is President of Iowa Advocates for Choice in Education, and is Chair of the Iowa Educational Opportunities PAC. He is a thinker, hunter, hiker, backpacker, movie watcher, traveler, soccer-lover/player, and music fanatic with a predilection for theatre and art; especially photography. His two children keep him and his wife very busy and very grateful.
Eric also can be found on Twitter.
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