The Tennessee Sovereignty Resolution (HJR 108) was signed into law by Governor Bredesen on June 23, 2009 demanding that the Federal government “halt and reverse its practice of assuming powers and of imposing mandates upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution of the United States.” Yet here again we find our Governor and Tennessee Legislature lining up at the trough for money from yet another unconstitutional mandate from Uncle Sam.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program is offering up to $750 million dollars in education funding to states willing to jump through its regulatory hoops. In addition to essentially nationalizing the public school systems, our state legislature is allowing the Department of Education to blackmail them into giving away a power that is not enumerated to the Federal government under the Constitution. Education is clearly an issue for state government alone under the Constitution, especially the Tenth Amendment, and yet our legislators are overwhelmingly abandoning their position on Tennessee sovereignty just to grab some cash.
Clearly, education in Tennessee could be improved, but submitting to blanket Federal mandates made by bureaucrats who know nothing about the educational challenges unique to Tennessee is not the answer. Instead Tennesseans need to deal with these challenges here at home. This is not an area in which our Federal government should meddle, a fact clearly evidenced by the fact that our Founders excluded education from the enumerated powers granted to the Federal government.
Governor Rick Perry of Texas got it right by refusing to participate in this unconstitutional rat race. The Race to the Top funding is clearly at odds with the Tenth Amendment and the Tennessee Sovereignty Resolution. Tennessee lawmakers would do well to follow Governor Perry’s example, not to mention their own advice in the form of the Tennessee Sovereignty Resolution. It is time for Tennessee legislators to stop doing lip service to the Tenth Amendment and start upholding it.
Lesley Swann is a Co-Host for Tenther Radio and the state chapter coordinator for the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center. She is a native of Anderson County, Tennessee.
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