If you have not read your US Constitution of late, you might make the assumption that something as common as education would be a federally mandated right of all US citizens. But it’s not.
It is a right in most (if not all) State Constitutions. So, does this mean we are all protected? I don’t think so, and will attempt to argue here that the US Constitution needs to be amended so that it is federally mandated. This wont happen for many reasons.
#1. The reason Education was not made a Federal Right in the first place was part of the Dual Federalism principal where States had rights to govern their citizens, not the Federal Government. If you read through the original Constitution of 1789 you will find that most direct rights of people are given to the States to prescribe.
There are many reasons why this was done.
Again, if you are not a recent Constitutionalist, and I mean one that actually reads and studies the Constitution, not one who follows a political ideology that claims they are the party of the Constitution, you will understand that following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the 13 Colonies were like separate countries depending on the “Federal Republic” for coercion and collecting revenues, mainly to pay down the costs of the American Revolution and financially support the Army.
For example, did you know that during the years between the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution, most of the Colonies had their own State Religions and separate foreign policy? Yes, different States had different international trade agreements with England, France and other European countries.
These were part of the reason it was so important to establish a stronger operating agreement for the States, referred to as the US Constitution.
BACK TO EDUCATION
As the States control and dictate Education, this means that all States have it THEIR way.
But what about No Child Left Behind, and Common Core? Aren’t these Federal Programs for education? Yes, they are federal but they are not law. They are bribes where the Federal government gives moneys to the States in exchange for accepting federal ideologies on education. But, these are not laws. If the Congress attempted to interfere with State organized education through legislation, the Judiciary would quickly nullify it as unconstitutional.
So, what is the point here?
As noted above, at the time of the Declaration of Independence and the signing of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, the States were still very independently minded. They were still very individual in organization. Moving between States was not as normal as it is today. Giving States the right to education made a lot more sense than it does today. Another way to look at this to support my pending argument is that most Americans died in the same State they were born in.
Now, lets move forward 200 years. How many people do you know who come from a State other than where they now live? How many people do you know were educated in a State they lived in earlier in their lives? How many people do you know moved to another State to get a better job? How many people do you know had to move to another State because the factories where they lived were all shut down and their jobs were shipped somewhere else? My point here is that in today’s economy, emigration between States is much more commonplace than it was 200 years ago when the framers made the decision to give Education to State Authority.
Case Study –
I taught a high school student last year who started his 9th grade year in Virginian public schools. He was an A student in ALL subjects. His parents moved to West Virginia and he switched schools. Soon after he arrived he started failing in ALL subjects and by the end of the first semester and then at the end of the year, he failed ALL subjects at his new school.
My point? His education in Virginia was designed in such a way that he was able to get A’s. His education in West Virginia was very different. I am sure this can be dissected to try and determine what could have gone wrong but as one of his teachers, my concern is that Virginia and West Virginia have different ideologies in education for the same grades.
200 years ago this child would have spent his entire education in the State of Virginia and likely would have done fine.
This brings me to another concern you may not have thought about.
DID HIS PARENTS EVER CONSIDER THAT THE EDUCATION IN WEST VIRGINIA MIGHT BE DIFFERENT THAN IT WAS IN VIRGINIA?
I recall speaking to his mother mid-year. She made a comment then that I remember but did not “click” at the time. She said education is education. There has to be something wrong with West Virginia schools since he did so much better in Virginia. As a teacher I will defend our school system and argue that it was different enough that it had an unfortunate overwhelming negative effect on the student.
As parents, do we consider that school districts offer different curriculum’s or do we make the incorrect assumption that because we all live in the USA that our children are getting similar educations no matter where they live?
I heard in an MAT class this week, that 40 States accepted the new Common Core Program where it first came out. West Virginia was in fact one of the strongest supporters of Common Core. West Virginia was also one of the first of the 40 States to bail on Common Core this year.
In 2015-16 I was a day to day substitute teacher. I taught in 15 different schools in the same County system. Not one 5th grade class was teaching the same materials as another. The same applies between the two county high schools. In 2016-17 I taught at the same high school all year. Of 5 teachers teaching the same subject, not one class taught the identical curriculum to another class with the same subject.
THIS WAS THE SAME SUBJECT IN THE SAME SCHOOL, and no 2 teachers were teaching the same identical curriculum.
Now, consider that there are 50 State Education Systems, which give autonomy to larger cities to run their own Educational Systems.
More to come….
At the beginning of the year, I enrolled at Shepherd University for an MAT Degree, a Master’s in Teaching toward certification as a teacher. Through all of my short life as a short term and long-term substitute teacher, the one thing that concerned me most was stability. There is an unwritten rule (maybe it is written somewhere) that a certified teacher can always replace a sitting long-term substitute teacher.
Along with being registered to start the MAT Program at Shepherd, I also accepted a last minute LTS (long-term sub) job at Charles Town Middle School in Charles Town, WV. I had subbed at this school a couple of years earlier when I first started substitute teaching on a day-to-day basis. I got along real well with the Principal, Tim Sites. Even better, Tim bought my book “The Crooner and the Russian Mob” and liked it.
As I write this, I should be talking about how great the first 9 weeks went at CTMS and how my studies at Shepherd were going but in both cases NOT POSSIBLE.
A little back-story to understand the crazy decision I made less than 1 WEEK BEFORE CLASSES at Shepherd and CTMS….
Jefferson County Schools is one of the few counties in West Virginia that did NOT adopt an AltCert Program. The AltCert Program is an Alternative Certification program where working professionals with at least 1 year of substitute teaching can take the Praxis test and several online classes and get a Teaching Certification. The cost of this would be extremely minimal and far less than 2 years in a college program and $20,000 in college tuition fees which is what I was looking at for Shepherd this year. WV AltCert Program Info
There were many times I tried, in vain, to get the County Board of Education to allow me to be their first guinea pig but to no avail.
In the week, leading up to the start of classes, as I sat in a training room at Harper’s Ferry Middle School, I took at look at the job board for teaching jobs in West Virginia and a job popped out at me for English teachers at Berkeley Springs High School (BSHS) in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. I had heard that Morgan County offered the AltCert so I applied. Later that afternoon, the Principal of BSHS (Mitch Nida) called me and during our brief conversation he mentioned they had the AltCert program available in Morgan County. He then asked me to come in to meet him and his administrative staff. I visited with them the next morning, bright and early.
I made the 57 mile trek the following morning and met with the Principal and his Administrative leadership along with a representative from the Morgan County Board of Education (Russell Penner). It was a great school and a good group of people. The only reason I was considering jumping ship in Jefferson County was because of the AltCert Program.
IMPORTANT NOTE – I was TOLD in the meeting, and a follow up meeting with the head of HR at the Morgan County Board office (Jamie Harris), that if I was in the AltCert Program my Long-Term Substitute job would be SECURED. I told them, emphatically, that this would have to be the case in order for me to give up my higher paid position at CTMS. They assured me verbally that this WAS THE CASE. I was hired as a Long Term Substitute but as a Full-Time employee with ALL benefits, from Day 1. Normally LTSs don’t get benefits until their 30th day on the job. IT ALL SEEMED ON THE UP AND UP.
So, I signed on and the next morning I notified Jefferson County Board of Education of my decision. They congratulated me on getting AltCert since they knew how important it was to me. I resigned as a Substitute Teacher in Jefferson County and started work at BSHS several days later.
As the end of the first quarter approached, I was asked to come to the Principals office. The Principal, his Vice and the same member of the Board Office were there. I was informed that I was being replaced by a certified teacher.
On the way home that day, I immediately got on the phone to Jefferson County Schools HR Department and let them know I wanted my Short-Term Sub status back and what happened. They were listing Open positions on the State’s Job Site, as was neighboring Berkeley County. That night I applied for both Counties. I made personal phone calls to the HR Departments of both Jefferson and Berkeley Counties to make sure they had my Applications. They assured me they did.
On Friday, November 4th, I got a call early in the morning from an elementary school in Jefferson County asking me to sub. I got all excited but quickly confirmed they were calling me because they had my business card I left with them two years earlier. I told them I was hoping to reactivate my status as a substitute teacher and perhaps they could call the Board Office to see if they would allow me to help them out. They called me back to say they were told that I “was not being reactivated”.
2 weeks later I was told by both counties that I was not being hired as a Short-Term Substitute, even though I was licensed and ready to go.
As I write this, I have reapplied to Shepherd University for the Spring Semester and am doing every thing I can to re-enter the business world. Perhaps where I belong! Especially since my local Board of Education has shut the door to a teaching career for now.
Seems I burned bridges with Jefferson County when I left at the start of the school year.
I took a chance, AND LOST.
Really stinks! I love teaching the kids.
As for BSHS, I loved teaching the 11th and 12th graders there. I really hoped to see them through the year. I really hoped to complete the AltCert Program in Morgan County and get my Teaching Certificate.
Unfortunately, this was not meant to be. At least not now.
WELCOME TO WEST VIRGINIA, Mr. Douglas!!!!!