It is not often the Tenth Amendment gets mention during a legislative committee meeting. Even less often is it referred to accurately or in a positive way.
So, I was pleasantly surprised to see this occur at a Washington House Education Committee meeting discussing the role of the federal government in education during a presentation by Lee Posey, federal affairs counsel for National Conference of State Legislatures.
The first bullet point in the presentation read as follows: “10th Amendment to the Constitution — education is a function of the state government.”
It is both refreshing and inspiring to see the discussion framed from the start as one in which the federal government has a constitutionally restricted role. The implication is clear; the Tenth Amendment restricts the feds, not the states.
Following the presentation, recently-elected Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal told Posey, “You had me at Tenth Amendment.”
The federal government has become more intrusive over the years, particularly as the result of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Common Core.The Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) signed in 2015 undoes some of NCLB and restores a large degree of state authority over student testing and accountability. In fact, ESSA has been called “the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter century” by the Wall Street Journal. But the feds still maintain a great deal of control over education. Hopefully, this recent hearing reflects a growing trend in states – a recognition of federal overreach and a willingness to confront it.
Make no mistake. The Tenth Amendment has not been forgotten. After years of federal meddling and intrusion, people are beginning to rediscover their political heritage in which they, not the feds, are sovereign.