Nullification or Article V Conventions~An Adult Conversation

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Feb 132014
 

Article V Conventions and Nullification are NOT mutually exclusive, nor is one the magic pill for all our federal problems. Each is a legitimate Constitutional solution, but each has a different aim and application. Each plan has its inherent problems and there are legitimate concerns that should be considered and dangers guarded against. They can be used together in the defense of Liberty as long as we understand each in its own context and consider the pitfalls involved. It must be noted that we are having this discussion because of the very fact that we have stepped so far out of the Constitutional boundaries given to this government that we are operating practically in a post-Constitutional America. At this point, it is unlikely that any solution will be perfect or without peril.

Two different animals:

Article V Convention is a long term fix aimed at making corrections at the federal level. Nullification is an immediate defense at the state level. Article V aims to make structural changes or further clarifications to the operations of the federal government and its relation to the states by amending the Constitution. Nullification aims to make no changes to the current Constitution, but is simply an assertion by the individual sovereign states of the authority they already possess and a declaration of the limitations to federal power already defined by the Constitution. Article V convention in the current context seeks to fix what is assumed to be broken or lacking in the federal system and is to be used in the rarest of circumstances. Nullification, as intended by the framers, was to be a part of “republican maintenance,” whereby the central government was to be continually kept in check by its masters, the states.

Both have their merits and their dangers. Let us take a look some problems that we should keep in mind so we can work TOGETHER to defeat the common enemy…TYRANNY.

Some of the problems with Article V:

WHO are the delegates and what is their motivation?

According to James Madison in Federalist 49, one significant problem with conventions is – WHO will be the delegates? Madison discusses two options for choosing delegates: either through the Legislators or through popular vote of the people. In each case he believed there was cause for concern.

In modern terms, when delegates are chosen by the legislators, what we could see are appointments based upon party loyalty rather than upon Constitutional expertise and dedication to Liberty principles. When the delegates are chosen by popular vote, typical election dynamics could determine the outcome. Voters would vote based upon party popularity and perhaps even a “lesser of two evils” and the same corrupt politicians would now be “fixing” the very problems they created. The ultimate result of both options would be, as Madison states, “The same influence which had gained them an election into the legislature, would gain them a seat in the convention… They would consequently be parties to the very question to be decided by them.”

According to Madison, the real difficulty with delegates boils down to “motivation”. What will be the motivating force behind the delegates and their amendments? Madison recognized that the only reason we have our current Constitution is that the framers had just come from a bloody revolution that kept the delegates focused upon LIBERTY and that forced them to set aside their party politics and personal motivations:

“We are to recollect that all the existing constitutions were formed in the midst of a danger which repressed the passions most unfriendly to order and concord; of an enthusiastic confidence of the people in their patriotic leaders, which stifled the ordinary diversity of opinions on great national questions; of a universal ardor for new and opposite forms, produced by a universal resentment and indignation against the antient government;” ~ James Madison Federalist 49

Madison seems to be telling us that without some overriding and unifying motivation, the convention would likely degrade into another Republican vs. Democrat drama. If we cannot get delegates that are properly constitutionally minded rather than driven by political gain and greed, this will never benefit us.

WHEN will it be done?

One big difference between nullification and convention is the time each takes to implement. Any advocate of Article V must admit that this is a LONG TERM goal and not a quick fix. To call convention, choose delegates, agree on amendments, an Article V convention could take several years, possibly 5 to 10 years. Adding to the time frame is the Article V requirement of 3/4 ratification by the States. That means EVERY AMENDMENT must be agreed upon (debated), individually, by 3/4 of the States to ratify. During such a time frame, it would be prudent to use nullification puts the brakes on at the state level until corrections (if truly needed) can be made at the federal level.

What will be the scope and impact?

Probably the most debated aspect is the notion of a “runaway convention.” Some say the ¾ ratification is a check on a runaway convention, that ¾ of the states would never go along with a total rewrite of the Constitution or the addition of harmful amendments. Of course, ¾ of the states DID ratify the very harmful 16th and 17th amendments. Tinkering with the foundation is always risky business. SO at the end of the day it may well come back to the main issue of the motivation, focus and education of the people and their delegates.

Nullification:

First, Nullification is a constitutional solution not because it is enumerated, but because the Constitution is a contract (technically a compact) among the States that created the federal government. The States are the parties to the Constitutional Contract and the federal government is the PRODUCT of that contract. Inherent in EVERY contract is the right of the parties to that contract to control the product of the contract. The States are the representatives of the people in this contract and have a DUTY to maintain the federal government within its constitutional boundaries and thus protecting the rights of the people. Nullification is that act of the PEOPLE through their States to maintain the federal government within in its “limited and defined” boundaries and should be as regularly carried out as an oil change in your car. Madison states this principle again in Federalist 49:

“As the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived; it seems strictly consonant to the republican theory, to recur to the same original authority, not only whenever it may be necessary to enlarge, diminish, or new-model the powers of government; but also whenever any one of the departments may commit encroachments on the chartered authorities of the others.”

This is not the forum for explanation of Nullification. If you are unfamiliar with this term or have in the past heard that it is not an option available to the States for a myriad of reasons, please take the time to read the FACTS about nullification before you give in to any one position.

Fear of Nullification

The first problem with nullification is fear and ignorance. For some, nullification’s association (rightly or wrongly) with the Civil War and slavery (despite the fact that it was used to resist slavery) throws a veil of fear over the entire issue. Many mistruths and misconceptions regarding this Liberty solution must be overcome in order to even utilize this option. Retorts such as “the South lost the war,” “SCOTUS says no,” or “it’s the law of the land” are common among those ignorant of the concepts of State sovereignty and nullification.

Even as nullification happens all around us today with, States legalizing marijuana and same sex marriage; states denying the federal government power to enforce the indefinite detention provisions of NDAA 2012 and Obamacare; local and state governments refusing to enforce federal gun restrictions, some will still say that nullification is an obscure and outdated concept. With more than 100 years of distorted history, overcoming the ignorance and fear surrounding Nullification is no easy task.

Participation by the States:

Whereas Article V requires 3/4 of the States to ratify any amendment, Nullification can be achieved on a State by State basis. But again, education of the States in this liberty option is a problem to State participation. Many state legislators do not understand the true nature of the states’ relationship to the federal government and they understand the states’ right and duty to interposition even less.

Federal Enforcement of Unconstitutional Acts:

One more roadblock to nullification is the federal government‘s attempt to bully the States into compliance with unconstitutional acts. The most obvious attempt at forced compliance will be through the withholding of federal funds. Any State who intends to maintain their supremacy over the federal government will have to be able to become self-sufficient in the face of federal funding withdrawal. In an arena where it’s all about the money and in a political system where politicians climb the ladder of power by giving and receiving favors this is a significant obstacle.

Runaway Nullification:

Sometimes opponents of nullification characterize the concept as “ignoring laws you don’t like.” The question at issue in nullification is not whether we like the law or not, the question is whether the law is constitutional or not. A possible danger is that states may wish to “nullify” inherent natural rights, such as those protected in the bill of rights from the abuse of the federal government. When such tyranny arises on the state level, the citizens must be ready to resist this tyranny as well, or else choose to live as slaves.

The REAL Solution lies within the operation of BOTH methods!

What Article V conventions cannot do to stop tyranny now, nullification can accomplish with near immediate effect. Where Nullification ends, Article V provides a long term solution to strengthening the restraints on the federal government, if done by the right people for the right reasons in the right way. If we DO NOT engage in Nullification now, we will never survive as a republic long enough for the Article V Convention to have any hopes. If we just engage in Nullification and do not follow through with shoring up the established boundaries, I believe we will dissolve into individual sovereign States and the Republic will die.

We will not succeed if we are so caught up in our own causes that we have to defeat everyone else’s. That is egocentric and immature. Truth be told, we will not succeed without all the efforts of all the people working together in the defense of Liberty. We need nullification daily to maintain the Republic, yet if we continue to allow the foundation to erode, we may indeed need a convention to right the ship.

So let’s approach the defense of Liberty like grown-ups. Let’s work together instead of trying to punch each other in the eye to elevate ourselves.

I have confidence that when all is said and done, our future will look back and say, “Coming up with a new and better form of government was nearly impossible. The original Constitution itself was not the problem; it was the ignorance of the people that lived under it.”

By KrisAnne Hall

About KrisAnne Hall

KrisAnne Hall is an attorney and former prosecutor, fired after teaching the Constitution to TEA Party groups – she would not sacrifice liberty for a paycheck. She is a disabled veteran of the US Army, a Russian linguist, a mother, a pastor’s wife and a patriot. She now travels the country and teaches the Constitution and the history that gave us our founding documents. KrisAnne Hall does not just teach the Constitution, she lays the foundations that show how reliable and relevant our founding documents are today. She presents the “genealogy” of the Constitution – the 700 year history and five foundational documents that are the very roots of American Liberty.

Unfair Compensation

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Feb 082014
 

I think the vast differences in compensation between victims of the September 11 casualty and those who die serving our country in Uniform are profound. No one is really talking about it either, because you just don’t criticize anything having to do with September 11. Well, I can’t let the numbers pass by because it says something really disturbing about the entitlement mentality of this country.

If you lost a family member in the September 11 attack, you’re going to get an average of $1,185,000.The range is a minimum guarantee of $250,000, all the way up to $4.7 million. If you are a surviving family member of an American soldier killed in action,the first check you get is a $6,000 direct death benefit, half of which is taxable.

Next, you get $1,750 for burial costs. If you are the surviving spouse, you get $833 a month until you remarry. And there’s a payment of $211 per month for each child under 18. When the child hits 18, those payments come to a screeching halt.

Keep in mind that some of the people who are getting an average of $1.185 million up to $4.7 million are complaining that it’s not enough. Their deaths were tragic, but for most, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Soldiers put themselves in harms way FOR ALL OF US, and they and their families know the dangers.. (Actually, soldiers are put in harms way by politicians and commanding officers.)

We also learned over the weekend that some of the victims from the Oklahoma City bombing have started an organization asking for the same deal that the September 11 families are getting. In addition to that, some of the families of those bombed in the embassies are now asking for compensation as well.

You see where this is going, don’t you? Folks, this is part and parcel of over 50 years of entitlement politics in this country. It’s just really sad. Every time a pay raise comes up for the military, they usually receive next to nothing of a raise. Now the green machine is in combat in the Middle East while their families have to survive on food stamps and live in low-rent housing. Make
sense?

However, our own US Congress voted themselves a raise. Many of you don’t know that they only have to be in Congress one time to receive a pension that is more than $15,000 per month. And most are now equal to being millionaires plus.

They do not receive Social Security on retirement because they didn’t have to pay into the system. If some of the military people stay in for 20 years and get out as an E-7, they may receive a pension of $1,000 per month, and the very people who placed them in harm’s way receives a pension of $15,000 per month.

I would like to see our elected officials pick up a weapon and join ranks before they start cutting out benefits and lowering pay for our sons and daughters who are now fighting.

“When do we finally do something about this?” If this doesn’t seem fair to you, it is time to forward this to as many people as you can.

By Rush Limbaugh

Veteran Principal Eloquently Denounces Common Core and Race to the Top

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Feb 022014
 

This powerful speech was written and delivered by Frank Sutliff to a crowd of concerned citizens and educators at the Oneonta (New York) Forum on January 18, 2014. Sutliff is a Principal and is also the President of SAANYS (School Administrators Association of New York State).

He said:

I appreciate the opportunity I have been given to speak here today. Although I am the President of the School Administrators Association of New York State, better known as SAANYS, I am not here today representing this organization of over 7000 administrators. Instead, I am here as a veteran Principal with 26 years of experience running a junior-senior high school, as well as having been in education over 30 years.

“here is one main issue for me with the APPR, the common core, and what I call the corporate takeover of American public education. That issue is the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on something that is of questionable benefit to children in any way, shape, or form. This hysteria over college and career readiness is a manufactured crisis based on data that compares apples to oranges, a crisis designed to enrich the coffers of publishing companies. The illusion that children in the United States are ill prepared and that they will never be competitive in a world market has manifested itself in many ways. I will concentrate on three of these issues today- the corporate takeover of education, high stakes testing, and the questionable data gathering in New York State via InBloom.

“Recent announcements out of the Governor’s office state how students are being “put first” in improving and reforming education and that education funding has been increased by $1.8 billion over the last two years.

Let me talk about how students are being “put first” in my district the last two years. I am sure that many of you here in the audience have seen the same thing.

• Is cutting 14 courses so that some students sit in so called “study halls” or the senior lounge for five periods a day “putting students first”? We no longer offer Computer Graphic Design, Construction Systems, World War II, or History and Digital Media just to name a few courses lost to cuts to teaching positions.

• Is the end of all professional development, including curriculum mapping and data analysis “putting students first?”

• Is cutting a guidance counselor as students’ academic and emotional needs increase “putting students first”?

• Is the cutting of numerous sports, clubs, and activities “putting students first”?

In this state and across the country, where we have been sold a bag of goods with Race to the Top, we are supposedly “putting students first”. In my district, we could “put students first” by providing them with needed and desired courses, providing their teachers with professional development, and providing these students with services and activities. Instead, on the Friday before Christmas, I received yet another huge shipment of common core modules where kindergarten students can learn about Mesopotamia, fifth graders can do close reading of passages from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and high school students can close read documents from the Federal Reserve Bank. As I sorted and distributed these boxes of material, I could see my senior lounge where students sit period after period due to the lack of course offerings. However, the millions and millions of dollars for Expeditionary Learning and Common Core Inc. continue to flow unabated.

“I am encouraged by the efforts of groups such as yours and I feel that grassroots efforts such as those done by the “Oneonta Area for Public Education” are well worth the effort in trying to effect change.

“I would like to share an email that I wrote about these issues and then sent to my teachers a few months ago. I believe my email sums up where we now are in this fight to restore sanity to our schools and how groups such as yours came to be.

“As the wasteful APPR system came into being with hundreds of millions foolishly allocated through Obama’s Race to the Top, there was little public outcry against it. Any objections were mainly from educators and the public could have cared less due to the disdain spewed against teachers and administrators by our governor and others. When the common core came in with it, there was little outcry against it, as no one understood the implications- a few “shifts” here and there and a few billions for testing and publishing companies. Again, no one outside of education really cared as criticisms were viewed as just those of whiny teachers and self serving administrators.

During this time, various educational groups formed to fight back against these initiatives, particularly on Long Island and in Western New York. However, these were isolated pockets and the public took little or no interest, nor did the legislators.

However, when students returned to school and began to have hours and hours of homework with the expectation that parents would help with things they did not know and when young elementary students started saying that they hated school, things began to change quickly. The final straw was when the test results were sent home; parents who had previously been told that their children were above average and doing well found out that their children were instead, barely achieving and in need of AIS. This is when the heat got turned up, resulting in common core forums where parents (“special interest” groups according to Commissioner King) got involved and heatedly voiced their opinions. As we know, this resulted in the cancellation of these forums by King and a public outcry.

What Commissioner King does not understand and has not dealt with in his limited experience as a school administrator is the vehemence of parents when it comes to defending their children. Any administrator with experience understands this and this is when the top down and forced compliance of the APPR/common core debacle thankfully went off the track. When parents got involved because their children were treated as lab experiments and started to voice their opinions as well as contact their legislators, the “revolt” against this nonsense found its voice.”

This is the voice with which you are all now speaking- speaking out against all of the testing, all of the squandered resources, and the decisions being made by corporate leaders with no experience in public schools. I look at my own district and try to find one positive thing about the APPR and the common core and I find none. However, when I look at the negative impact it has brought us, I see morale at an all time low, teachers reluctant to share their practices with colleagues due to concerns about their “score” and money spent on purchasing tests that could be spent on students. This is my own experience; to be fair, I know colleagues in other districts and within my own professional organization who appear to be quite pleased with the so called reform agenda, particularly the common core. My question to them would be the same- could these hundreds of millions have been better spent by providing services and opportunities to students instead of being spent in a top down experiment?

I would like to take a few minutes to talk about the testing. I have been giving 3-8 assessments (in my case 7-8), as well as Regents exams for years and years. I never had a problem with these tests before, other than a few blips along the way (a 2004 fiasco with Algebra being a prime example). Overall, it was an excellent system with tests of relatively high quality administered from district to district. What we did at my school with the 3-8 assessments in particular was to invite K-12 teachers as a group to scrutinize and study them in the following year. We looked for strengths and weaknesses, not to get better test scores, but to inform instruction. In fact, leading these data groups was one of the highlights of my professional career- to have 3rd grade teachers discussing math standards with the trig teacher is a wonderful use of educators’ time. However, with no money for professional development and the secretive nature of the tests now, this activity no longer occurs.

Now as part of “putting students first” and the mantra of college and career readiness, we give 3-8 tests that are longer than the law boards and include concepts and topics never taught. This is part of the now famous State Ed analogy of “building the plane in the air.” However, as we “build the plane in the air”, we not only fail children, we fail their teachers in the quest to make teaching an activity that can be assigned a number.

Another thing associated with testing that I find truly disingenuous is the notion put out from Albany that all of the additional SLO testing is the fault of districts and the APPR plans they adopted. The fact that we spend money purchasing these tests for the so called non-core courses and then waste students’ time giving them came directly from State Ed as they instituted the APPR. This testing, given for no other reason than to give teachers who do not get a NYS growth score a number, comes right out of Albany’s directives and their inability to answer simple APPR questions with one consistent and correct answer. To suggest otherwise and to blame districts for this is disingenuous.

I am not going to go into specifics about the common core due to time limitations today; I will leave that better said by others. However, as a former librarian, it is hard to see the little regard with which fiction is held as we are given mandated acceptable levels of nonfiction. As a child growing up in Gloversville, my books came from the Gloversville Free Library and so did much of my education. I know that I loved reading due to the worlds that it opened; I also know that our so called close readings of prescribed documents and passages will not open up that same love of literature in today’s students.

Everywhere I turn the common core rears its head. One of the most disappointing recently was on the Kindle Free Time product that Amazon.com offers. My soon to be four year old granddaughter enjoys this feature of the Kindle with all of its games, activities, books, and videos; it really is a wonderful product. Recently Amazon tweeted out “Kindle Free Time launches Learn First and Bedtime Educational Features.” I saw the tweet and thought great, a good product getting even better. I clicked on the link and saw the following- “Now with thousands of educational titles- hundreds of common core aligned level readers and supplemental readers.” Enough is enough- preschool?- can’t kids just have fun?

Finally, I want to discuss one other area of Race to the Top that is very concerning to me and should concern you as parents and educators- InBloom. This is the data system New York State has bought into where students’ confidential information is stored by private companies in the cloud. In fact, this data system is so concerning that some districts are returning Race to the Top funds in an attempt to not have their children’s private data stored in this way. One example is the Pearl River School system; on October 31 they voted to opt out of Race to the Top, due to concerns about privacy. Their Superintendent, Dr. John Morgano, was quoted as saying “However, we learned from the State Education Department that they will be collecting individual student discipline data and sending it to InBloom. There is no need for a private company to possess a child’s disciplinary history so that it is potentially available to prospective colleges and employers. I will not be a party to this infringement of privacy rights.” Kudos to Superintendent Morgano and I second this, as should each of you. I have handled all the student discipline in my school for the past 26 years. I send a form or letter or a certified letter home, depending on the incident, and then put a copy in my desk for future discarding, never in the student’s permanent file.

Although I know my way around data, computers, and student systems, I do not put discipline in digital form in our student system for just that reason. I have no problem reporting out to State Ed that I suspended 20 students out of school last year; however, I can think of no reason why they or a private company needs the name of these students. This assault on privacy, which is all too commonplace in our country today, should concern each of you.

In closing, I received a memo dated October 24, 2013 from our Education Commissioner, as did most of you working in schools. This memo detailed changes in testing, continued the illusion of our failures as educators, and ended with the statement “Teaching is the core.”

Of course, “teaching is the core” but making a difference in the life of a child should be more of the core. Learning and motivating children to develop their full potential is the core art of teaching. I could stand here the rest of the afternoon as could each of you and mention a teacher or adult who has impacted our lives. For me it was Zane Peterson from Gloversville High School, Dr. Wayne Mahood at SUNY Geneseo, and Esther Tasner, Children’s Librarian at the Gloversville Free Library. For you, the names are different but the idea is the same.

An anonymous public school teacher in Delaware wrote the following which appeared in a blog site on Washington.com; it was then quoted in an article by Valarie Strauss and I would like to share it with you. “They assume the best teaching and best learning can be quantified with tests and data. Yet I’ve never once had a student compliment me on my academic knowledge or my data collection skills. I’ve never had a student thank me for writing insightful test questions or staying up late to write a stunning lesson plan. But students HAVE thanked me for being there, for listening to them, for encouraging them, for believing in them even before they could believe in themselves.”

In our field of education, these stories happen every day. Just a few weeks ago, my ninth grade English teacher spent hours of each day helping a young lady who had previously met with very little academic success in her life. This teacher worked with her as she prepared her speech for a local oratorical contest, and this same student placed and went on to the next levels. To see the hugs and the high fives for this girl’s success and to see her beaming with pride is really what it is all about. This young student, years from now, won’t recall her close reads or the scripted lessons that have resulted from the state’s fabricated illusion of our failing students and failing educators. However, she will recall the kindness of this teacher helping her to be successful; this kindness is not quantifiable, data driven, or able to be reported to the state. Really, at the end of the day and at the end of a career, isn’t it all about helping a child to be successful?

Thank you for allowing me to share some thoughts with you this afternoon and I thank you for your efforts on behalf of all of our children.

Written by: Diane Ravitch