Congress should resurrect federalism and let the states and local governments do their jobs

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“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negociation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
— James Madison, Federalist No. 45, Jan. 26, 1788

Federalism is a fetid corpse. All money and power and decisions are being made in the Kremlin on the Potomac for poor, hapless rubes out here in the hinterlands.

The latest example comes not from the socialized medicine scheme of ObamaCare that was foisted on the states from D.C., but from the federal bureaucracy at the Department of Education.

A couple of weeks ago Secretary of Education Arne Duncan arbitrarily announced that states could delay for yet another year the use of test results in teacher-performance ratings, which can affect a teacher’s pay. (Funny how this comes before the November election and will be welcome news to a huge Democratic constituency.)

The testing requirement was part of No Child Left Behind — yes, a law signed by George W. Bush — which dictates what states must do to get federal education handouts.

Duncan wrote in a blog post, “I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools,” and “States will have the opportunity to request a delay in when test results matter for teacher evaluation during this transition. As we always have, we’ll work with them in a spirit of flexibility to develop a plan that works, but typically I’d expect this to mean that states that request this delay will push back by one year (to 2015-16) the time when student growth measures based on new state assessments become part of their evaluation systems – and we will work with states seeking other areas of flexibility as well.”

Over the past four years 40 states have adopted laws that link pay to teacher evaluations based on student performance standardized tests, often coerced by Race to the Top grants.

Nevada is one of them.

Coincidentally, in June a Nevada legislative panel voted to delay implementation of the evaluation requirement until the 2015-16 school year, as Duncan did later. Additionally, the Legislative Committee on Education is already talking about watering down the requirement from having 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation based on student test scores to only 40 percent.

Such decisions are precisely what state lawmakers and local school boards should be making, not bureaucrats in far off Washington.

That sound you hear is the 10th Amendment flapping in the breeze: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

We call on Nevada’s representatives in Washington to remember that their powers are enumerated and not limitless. — TM

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