Charlie Norwood on Education
Former Republican Representative (GA-9, 1995-2007)
Proponents support voting YES because:
I believe that our Pledge of Allegiance with its use of the phrase "under God" is entirely consistent with our Nation's cultural and historic traditions. I also believe that the Court holding that use of this phrase is unconstitutional is wrong. But this court-stripping bill is not necessary. This legislation would bar a Federal court, including the Supreme Court, from reviewing any claim that challenges the recitation of the Pledge on first amendment grounds.
If we are a Nation of laws, we must be committed to allowing courts to decide what the law is. This bill is unnecessary and probably unconstitutional. It would contradict the principle of Marbury v. Madison, intrude on the principles of separation of powers, and degrade our independent Federal judiciary.
Opponents support voting NO because:
I was disappointed 4 years ago when two judges of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that our Pledge, our statement of shared national values, was somehow unconstitutional. I do not take legislation that removes an issue from the jurisdiction of this court system lightly. This legislation is appropriate, however, because of the egregious conduct of the courts in dealing with the Pledge of Allegiance.
By striking "under God" from the Pledge, the Court has shown contempt for the Congress which approved the language, and, more importantly, shows a complete disregard for the millions of Americans who proudly recite the Pledge as a statement of our shared national values and aspirations. No one is required to recite the Pledge if they disagree with its message.
No DOE funds shall be available to any educational agency which prevents participation in constitutionally protected prayer in public schools by individuals on a voluntary basis. No educational agency shall require any person to participate in prayer or influence the form or content of any constitutionally protected prayer in such public schools.H.Con.Res.199 (Nov 19, 1999, Bonilla et. al.)
Expressing the sense of the Congress that prayers and invocations at public school sporting events contribute to the moral foundation of our Nation and urging the Supreme Court to uphold their constitutionality.H.J.RES. 54
Recognizing the authority of public schools to allow students to exercise their constitutional rights by establishing a period of time for silent prayer or meditation or reflection, encouraging the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and refusing to discriminate against individuals or groups on account of their religious character or speech.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To allow an income tax credit for amounts contributed to charitable organizations which provide elementary or secondary school scholarships and for contributions for instructional materials and materials for extracurricular activities.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Rep. PAUL: This act, a companion to my Family Education Freedom Act, takes a further step toward returning control over education resources to private citizens by providing a $3,000 tax credit for donations to scholarship funds to enable low-income children to attend private schools. It also encourages private citizens to devote more of their resources to helping public schools, by providing a $3,000 tax credit for cash or in-kind donations to public schools to support academic or extra curricular programs.
Many of those who share my belief that the most effective education reform is to put parents back in charge of the education system have embraced government-funded voucher programs as a means to that end. I certainly sympathize with the goals of voucher proponents, but supporters of parental control of education should view Federal voucher programs with a high degree of skepticism because vouchers are a creation of the government, not the market. Vouchers are a taxpayer-funded program benefiting a particular group of children selected by politicians and bureaucrats. Therefore, the Federal voucher program supported by many conservatives is little more than another tax-funded welfare program establishing an entitlement to a private school education. Vouchers thus raise the same constitutional and moral questions as other transfer programs. A superior way of improving education is to return control of the education dollar directly to the American people through tax cuts and tax credits.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to House Committee on Ways and Means; never came to a vote.
The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:
To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
H.J.RES.52 (2001), H.J.RES.66 (1999), S.J.RES. 1, H.J.RES.12, H. J. RES. 108, & H. J. RES. 55:
Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions. No person shall be required by the United States or by any State to participate in prayer . Neither the United States nor any State shall compose the words of any prayer to be said in public schools.H. J. RES. 78 (1997):
To secure the people's right to acknowledge God according to the dictates of conscience: Neither the United States nor any State shall establish any official religion, but the people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, or traditions on public property, including schools, shall not be infringed. Neither the United States nor any State shall require any person to join in prayer or other religious activity, prescribe school prayers, discriminate against religion, or deny equal access to a benefit on account of religion.
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NY-25:Ann Marie Buerkle