The GOP propaganda campaign to divide and conquer the electorate and control Michigan education moves ever onward in the state Senate with the passage of SB 209, a bill to amend the existing school code to include specific teaching emphasis on what the GOP designates as the “core principles” of the U. S. Constitution, the First, Second and Tenth Amendments. These just happen to be the party’s favorite recruiting Amendments of the GOP.
These three Amendments are perhaps the least complex, the God and guns and states rights Amendments (That is, “making no laws respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms;” and “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively.”). Apparently the GOP believes the other 24 Amendments are chopped liver.
One might ask who gave the GOP the authority to determine what are core principles of the Constitution? Of course emphasizing the “core principles” of the GOP in our classrooms will ultimately serve to skew students’ understanding of the breadth and range of U.S. law in the direction of political conservatives. This is obviously the desired outcome.
Senator David Knezek, D-Fifth District, a Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq to defend all provisions of our Constitution, took to the floor to enter a protest on the record:
Again, I am deeply concerned, as are my colleagues, about the fact that we are picking and choosing in this chamber what it is about the United States Constitution, the Michigan Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence that is or is not important as it relates to the education of our children. I put forward a very simple, straightforward, and commonsense amendment that sought to ensure that taught the entirely of those documents to our children. For whatever reason, that amendment was very narrowly defeated today.
I think it is important and incumbent for every one of us to think about when we talk about being prescriptive from Lansing and we talk about educating from the top down and enabling local control and then do the exact opposite with legislation. What type of message does that send to our residents? What type of message does that send to the students who are the recipients and bear the burden of the legislation we pass here today?
I thank you for this opportunity to explain my “no” vote, and I thank my colleagues for their consideration.
The following is the statement Senator Knezek asked to make and to be printed in the Journal. It explains why he had sought and amendment to remove the notion of “core principles” within the teaching of the U.S. Constitution.
I had a number of remarks that I had prepared to share as it relates to my amendment, but I would like to thank the previous speaker for making all of my points for me. What is so dangerous about the bill as it is written is that it only asks and only delineates that we teach our students specific elements of the Declaration of Independence, specific elements of the Constitution, and specific elements of the Michigan Constitution.
I believe, and I know a number of us do, that in order to understand these very vital and important documents, it is important to understand them in their entirety. It should not be left up to the Michigan Senate as body or to any one Senator to determine what aspects of the Constitution are more important than the others. If that is the approach that we want to take, let me point out the aspects of the Constitution that were left out of this bill that, apparently, are not important enough to be taught to our children.
This bill makes no mention to the Fourth Amendment that talks about illegal searches and seizures here in Michigan and the country. Again, in a time where we have seen the Fourth Amendment whittled away to almost nothing in this country, I cannot understand why we wouldn’t want to drive home the importance of that amendment to our children. This bill makes no mention to the Thirteenth Amendment which talks about the abolition of slavery. This bill makes no mention to the Fourteenth Amendment. It takes a five-section amendment and barrels it down to one section. The Fifteenth Amendment that talks about the right of U.S. citizens to vote is not made mention of either. Nor is the Nineteenth Amendment mentioned, which I imagine would be very important to a number of women in this room as well as the women across the state of Michigan.
So my amendment, quite simply, asks my colleagues on this side of the aisle and the other side to support a bill that doesn’t pick and choose which parts of the Constitution we want to teach our children. I am asking with this amendment that we teach our children the entire Declaration of Independence, the entire United States Constitution, and the entire Michigan Constitution.
You can watch the entire exchange with Republican Sen. Patrick Colbeck here:
Sen. Knezek later appeared on Channel 7 with Colbeck, who introduced the bill, where they further explained their positions.
The “conservatizing” of America through legislative propaganda is becoming increasingly less subtle. We used to think our founding documents were our core principles, our legal baseline and framework, but now the GOP points out the “real” core principles that lie within the core principles and which need to be highlighted because they are the only true core principles. This is a clear example of ideological missionary work in action. The right wing mind vice keeps tightening and our school children will be in its grips.