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Slow Down Before You Support Trump Ending Obama-Era School Guidance

July 6, 2018 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

If you think the federal government should stick to the
Constitution with what it does in education, your job is usually
pretty easy: advocate it basically do nothing. The Constitution
gives Washington only specific, enumerated powers, and the
authority to meddle in education is not among them. But it gets
more complicated when it comes to the federal role in ensuring that
states and districts don’t discriminate in their provision of
education. That should mitigate against quick, sweeping
pronouncements that the Trump administration
rescinding Obama-era guidance on admissions and race
is the
right thing to do.

While the areas in which the feds may actively involve
themselves are generally limited to the powers laid out in Article
I, Section 8 of the Constitution—and no, they do not include
anything
deemed to be serving the “general welfare”
or
involving tax dollars—it is the 14th Amendment that empowers
Washington to stop discrimination by government.

As a baseline, then, there is no clear Constitutional reason
that the federal government should not offer guidance about what
public colleges and school districts can do regarding race and
admissions. But then the complications start.

The first is what is the right procedure for Washington to
establish and enforce rules? Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is
focused on
letting the Supreme Court set guidelines
in its rulings and
having districts and states look directly to those when making
policies. “The Supreme Court has determined what affirmative
action policies are constitutional, and the court’s written
decisions are the best guide for navigating this complex
issue,” she wrote.

Free people must
voluntarily atone for past wrongs, while government must cease any
race-conscious decision-making.

Meanwhile, the
Department of Justice is emphasizing
following proper
procedures by creating formal regulations, as opposed to issuing
“Dear Colleague” letters.

“In previous administrations…agencies often tried to
impose new rules on the American people without any public notice
or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance
document on a website,” stated Attorney General Jeff Sessions
in a press release itemizing rescinded guidance.
“That’s wrong, and it’s not good
government.”

The next complication is whether federal power should apply to
only government entities, or also private. The right answer is
usually “only government,” because unlike private
people, government does not enjoy association, religious, and other
rights, and it can legally impose itself on people ultimately at
the point of a gun. But when private schools receive oodles of
federal cash the distinctions become blurred, and that is certainly
the case in higher education, with colleges heavily dependent on
students paying with
federal loans and grants
, and institutions often getting …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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