When I heard that Education Secretary Arne Duncan was stepping down in December, my first reaction was one of elation. Duncan was instrumental in forcing Common Core upon the states, he’s been an advocate for more federal control of education, and, perhaps most troubling, of increased data collection and analysis in violation of the privacy of both students and parents.
The following quote illustrates the man’s mentality with chilling, Orwellian clarity:
We want to see more states build comprehensive systems that track students from pre-K through college and then link school data to workforce data. We want to know whether Johnny participated in an early learning program and completed college on time and whether those things have any bearing on his earnings as an adult.
In short, Duncan was a huge enemy or parental rights and local control of education. He will not be missed.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends. To replace Duncan, President Obama is appointing John B. King, Jr., the number two man at the Department of Education to serve as a “temporary” replacement, where “temporary” refers to the remainder of Obama’s term.
King was formerly Commissioner of Education in New York State, where he feverishly advocated for Common Core and shut down hearings on the matter when he got too much pushback from opponents. He was also the target of a lawsuit from New York parents attempting to protect their children’s privacy from controversial data collection, a suit that was unfortunately dismissed.
John King is likely to be no better than Arne Duncan, and under normal circumstances we would urge Senators not to confirm his nomination and demand the job go to someone with at least a modicum of respect for parental rights and state autonomy. There’s just one problem: they’re not being given a chance to object.
Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives the president the power to appoint public officials with the advice and consent of the Senate. This means the Senate gets a vote on all appointments of cabinet secretaries. But since King’s appointment is only “temporary,” the White House is simply skipping this crucial step, denying the Senate it’s constitutionally protected role.
An unnamed GOP Senator summed the situation up perfectly, saying: "It’s unsurprising that this administration is blatantly disregarding the constitutional requirement for the Senate’s role on advice and consent of a cabinet secretary. So much for the so-called constitutional scholar in the White House."
It’s outrageous that the administration would violate the separation of powers in yet another way, and an unbelievably bad precedent to set. Congress has already ceded enough of its authority to the White House. We can’t tolerate still more abuse of the Constitution and the usurpation of congressional power by the presidency.