Activity this week highlights how EdWatch's combat experience in Saint Paul, multiplied by new national alliances, is already paying dividends on Capitol Hill--even without a Beltway lobbyist on the ground.
EdWatch, along with a coalition of like-minded organizations, is throwing roadblocks in the path of a bill that would establish federal academies to teach civics. They sound great, except that such academies would be unconstitutional. According to EdWatch, "Authority over education is a power reserved to the states. The federal government has no authority to set up federal academies to teach students or teachers. This bill is a violation of our Constitution."
Federal academies would also do an end-run past school boards and parents, teaching curriculum that is not subject to their review. EdWatch has a long-standing objection to the federally-funded curriculum, We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution, and the National History Standards, which would be the foundation of any federal civics academy. EdWatch believes that this federal curriculum "undermines the basic principles of freedom that are set forth in the Declaration of Independence, such as national sovereignty, inalienable rights, and self-evident truth, the 2nd amendment and the 9th and 10th amendments of limited government."
Here's where EdWatch's legislative experience comes in. In a move reminiscent of Profile of Learning intrigues, the original federal civics academies bill, H.R. 1078, The American History and Civics Education Act of 2003, has been resurrected for the current lame duck session as The American History and Civics Education Act of 2004, H.R. 5360. EdWatch caught wind of this and mobilized its members, in concert with other groups including The Liberty Committee, a 501(c)4 lobbying group. Their calls and faxes from across the country resulted in the bill being removed from today's calendar--a temporary but real victory for the bill's opponents. The effort continues; stay tuned.
EdWatch is also supporting House and Senate legislation that would prohibit mandatory mental health screening, using similar tactics with similar success.
Growing lobbying experience, plus an active grassroots network, plus new national alliances, plus a Capitol Hill lobbyist could make EdWatch a player in Congress real soon now. Now imagine for a moment that the Republicans endorse state Senator and EdWatch friend Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) against U.S. Senator Mark Dayton in 2006, and she wins. Stranger things have happened, such as the 2000 surprise endorsement win, primary election victory, and general election victory that landed Bachmann (now Assistant Minority Leader) in her Republican Caucus office in the first place.