STOP the War on Children

June 22, 2011

Even Education Department Has Power to Invade and Search Homes

Dr. Karen Gushta

A loud knock at the door at 6:00 a.m. by a stranger would surely be unsettling, if not frightening. Who could it be? What do they want? Is one of my family members hurt? Such questions would race through our minds.

 

But on June 7, before Kenneth Wright of Stockton, California had a chance to find out who was banging on his front door at that hour, it was broken down by a team of more than a dozen federal police officers. After barging into his home, one of the officers grabbed him by the neck and forced him down onto his front lawn, clad only in his boxer shorts.

 

As Wright later told a local TV station, the fully armed officers then woke up his children, ages 3, 7, and 11, and confined them in a Stockton patrol car while they searched his home.

 

The person the officers were looking for was not there—his estranged wife. That did not deter them from handcuffing Wright and detaining him in a squad car for six hours while they searched for evidence that was identified in a warrant he was shown at the end of his long ordeal.

Evidence of what? According federal Department of Education Press Secretary Justin Hamilton, the DOE’s Office of Inspector General had executed a warrant “with the presence of local law enforcement authorities” in regard to a “criminal investigation.”

 

As FoxNews.com reported, Hamilton would not comment on the specifics of the case, since it was part of an “ongoing investigation.” But he said, “We can say that the OIG’s office conducts about 30-35 search warrants a year on issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.”

 

How does an ongoing investigation by the Department of Education into possible “bribery, fraud, or embezzlement” result in sending a team of officers to break down your door at 6:00 a.m. and carry out a six-hour search of your home?

Apparently, it’s not a far step to take. According to FindLaw.com blogger Stephanie Rabiner, “The Homeland Security Act of 2002 amended the Inspector General Act of 1978 to allow the DOE’s Inspector General to carry firearms, make arrests, and seek and execute warrants for investigatory purposes.”  

“Like all warrants,” wrote Rabiner, the “warrant executed upon the house of Kenneth Wright was first approved by a judge after he was presented with evidence of probable cause. The DOE can ask a judge for a warrant, but it cannot issue one itself.”

This should bring relief to all those with students loans in default who might have heard initial media reports that the search was related to an unpaid student loan. But it doesn’t relieve the rest of us who now realize that even the Department of Education has the power to enter our home to carry out a search and seizure of private papers and documents if they’ve obtained a proper warrant.  

 

Warrants, as the Fourth Amendment guarantees, can only be issued “upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

 

But don’t count on being able to read the warrant before officers start rummaging through your personal papers and effects. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fourth Amendment does not require that you have the right to read a warrant issued or question it prior to its being carried out. In its 2006 decision, United States v. Grubbs, Justice Scalia delivered the court’s opinion refuting the defendant’s claim that a search of his home had not been carried out properly, stating, This argument assumes that the executing officer must present the property owner with a copy of the warrant before conducting his search. … In fact, however, neither the Fourth Amendment nor Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure imposes such a requirement.”

Mark Reichel, Kenneth Wright’s attorney, is now calling on Congress to amend Rule 41 to require those executing federal search warrants to provide a copy of the entire search warrant at the outset of the search. He has also filed a claim of “excessive force” used against Wright.

According to constitutional expert John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, the larger problem exemplified in the Wright case is “The militarization of American police” and the fact that “federal agencies having nothing whatsoever to do with national defense now see the need for their own paramilitary units.”  

The Department of Education is but one of 73 agencies in the federal government, according to Whitehead, that “have secured the services of fully armed agents–often in SWAT team attire–through a typical bureaucratic sleight-of-hand provision allowing for the creation of Offices of Inspectors General (OIG). Each OIG office is supposedly charged with not only auditing their particular agency’s actions but also uncovering possible misconduct, waste, fraud, theft, or certain types of criminal activity by individuals or groups related to the agency’s operation.”

 

The case of Kenneth Wright “is not the first time a SWAT team has been employed in non-violent scenarios,” writes Rutherford. “Nationwide, SWAT teams have been employed to address an astonishingly trivial array of criminal activity or mere community nuisances: angry dogs, domestic disputes, improper paperwork filed by an orchid farmer, and misdemeanor marijuana possession, to give a brief sampling. In some instances, SWAT teams are even employed, in full armament, to perform routine patrols.”

 

Rutherford details the problems that arise in these situations, including the killing of innocent victims by officers too quick to shoot first and ask questions later. “The problems inherent in these situations are further compounded,” says Rutherford, “by the fact that SWAT teams are granted “no-knock” warrants at high rates such that the warrants themselves are rendered practically meaningless.” According to Rutherford recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have even done away with the need for a “no-knock” warrant altogether, “giving the police authority to disregard the protections afforded American citizens by the Fourth Amendment.”

 

The fact that Department of Education officials now have police authority is so foreign to our understanding of a constitutional republic governed by law and the consent of the governed that the story of Kenneth Wright leaves us incredulous.

But as Patrick Garry observes, writing at RenewAmerica.com, “The danger of big and unlimited government is that, over time, it can distort the most basic notion of sovereignty and principal-agent. Under the U.S. constitutional system, the people are sovereign: they are the principal, with government as their agent and servant.” But “big government” brings unbounded bureaucratic discretion and a threat to the rule of law. 
The next time you get a loud knock on your door at 6:00 a.m., you may want to grab your pocket copy of the Constitution. Or is it already too late?

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Coral Ridge Ministries and author of The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk. Dr. Gushta is a career educator who has taught at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate level teacher education, in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. Dr. Gushta served as the first international director of Kid’s Evangelism Explosion. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Indiana University and Masters degrees in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico and in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

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June 3, 2011

He’s Gone, But Not Forgotten

By Dr. Karen Gushta

When homosexual activist Kevin Jennings quietly left his post as “safe schools czar” at the Department of Education, the news barely made a ripple. Although pro-family advocates can rejoice, they should not underestimate Jennings’ ability to influence America’s children in his new post as CEO of non-profit group, Be the Change, Inc. The organization works closely with AmeriCorps, the government agency that funds community works and public sector programs in education, health, public safety, and the environment.

When Jennings was appointed by President Obama, Jim Hoft correctly noted at Gateway Pundit that his appointment was primarily due to the fact that he had founded the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in 1990.  By 2007, Jennings was pulling down a salary of more than $270,000 as GLSEN’s executive director. But his goal was more than personal enrichment. His homosexual activist organization led the way in getting government schools to introduce programs intended to promote acceptance of homosexuality through anti-bullying curricula that teach tolerance of homosexual students.  

One of GLSEN’s tools is a “recommended reading list.” As Hoft reported, “GLSEN maintains a recommended reading list of books that it claims ‘furthers our mission to ensure safe schools for all students.’” The books are hardly ones that “all students” should read, however.

Purportedly the books help “gay kids” by raising their self-esteem, and “straight kids” who read them are supposed to become more aware and tolerant of homosexual kids and stop bullying them. In fact, these books expose young people to homosexual behaviors and lifestyles in a graphic and sexually explicit way.

According to Hoft, “Book after book after book contained stories and anecdotes that weren’t merely X-rated and pornographic, but which featured explicit descriptions of sex acts between pre-schoolers; stories that seemed to promote and recommend child-adult sexual relationships; stories of public masturbation, anal sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, five-year-olds playing sex games, semen flying through the air.”

In his book, Radical Rulers, Robert Knight notes that while Jennings was the leader of GLSEN, it established “gay/straight” alliances in schools, developed a “heterosexism questionnaire” that encouraged kids to question their sexuality, and established events such as “Day of Silence,” and “No Name-Calling Week.” According to Knight, these events are promoted “under the guise of discouraging bullying,” but in reality, “kids are taught to promote homosexuality and accuse anyone who thinks it is immoral of being a bigot and hater.”

While he was safe schools czar, Kevin Jennings met several times with the executive director of Christian Educators Association International, Finn Laursen. Nevertheless, in the past he has been vocal in dismissing the views of Christians.  

Robert Knight wrote that Jennings spoke to a conference at a church in 2000 where he called Moral Majority and Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell a “terrorist,” and said, “We have to quit being afraid of the religious right. We also have to quit—I’m trying to find a way to say this—I’m trying not to say, ‘[F—] ‘em!’ which is what I want to say, because I don’t care what they think! [audience laughter] Drop dead!”

So given his track record, is it time to breathe a sigh of relief that children in America’s schools are now safe from Kevin Jennings’ influence?

That might be premature.

Given Jennings’ track record and his avowed dedication to the cause of normalizing homosexuality in America, it might be wiser to assume that Jennings’ move to Be the Change is based on his belief that it will give him a wider platform to promote the causes that are near and dear to him.

Founded by Alan Khazei in 2008, Be the Change states that its goal is to create “national issue-based campaigns by organizing coalitions of non-profits, social entrepreneurs, policymakers, private sector and civic leaders, academics, and citizens.” The first campaign it launched was ServiceNation, a lobbying effort that gathered over 270 organizations in support of the Kennedy Serve America Act, touted as “the greatest expansion of national service in our country in 60 years.”

Addressing the Service Nation Summit, Khazei said, “We believe that the idea of America is ennobled and the future of America is strengthened when Americans come together to serve our country.”

Perhaps Jennings hopes he can have a hand in shaping the direction of that service. He’s taking charge at a very propitious time. In 2011 the second campaign, Opportunity Nation, was launched as the website proclaimed that children in America have less of a chance for improving their economic situation than those born into low-income households in the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, or Germany.

How Jennings will shape this effort remains to be seen. After 20 years leading the homosexual cause, it seems safe to say that he will find ways to infuse the goals of the homosexual agenda into the new campaign.

Be the Change, Inc. is not alone in its efforts to rally America’s citizens to bring change to their communities. Samaritan’s Purse is training tens of thousands of volunteers to bring relief and assistance in the name of Christ to those whose lives have been ravaged by the recent floods and tornadoes. Glenn Beck is encouraging people to seek “Enlightenment, Education, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship” so our nation will be prepared for the impending world crisis that radical Islamists and Leftists are fomenting in the Middle East.  

America is at a crossroads. And there are many options for those who want to be “part of the solution and not part of the problem.” Coral Ridge Ministries is now offering a new option in its ongoing effort to inspire believers in their daily lives with the power of a biblical worldview. Community in Action is a new grassroots outreach that equips and encourages believers to find God’s call on their lives and connect their passions and abilities to that call in order to transform the culture and their communities for Christ.

It’s clear that activists like Kevin Jennings are not going to stop their efforts to transform the culture according to a vision that distorts God’s design for sexuality and human relationships.

The question is—will Christians take up the challenge to work with the same degree of zeal?

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Coral Ridge Ministries and author of The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk. Dr. Gushta is a career educator who has taught at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate level teacher education, in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. Dr. Gushta served as the first international director of Kid’s Evangelism Explosion. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Indiana University and Masters degrees in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico and in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

March 8, 2011

A Call to Dragon Slayers

By Dr. Karen Gushta

It would appear that the new Republican-controlled House is taking its 2010 election mandate seriously by cutting some education funding from the current year budget. But how seriously?

 

According to Education Week, the U.S. House of Representatives “slashed” this year’s U.S. Department of Education budget by more than $5 billion when it approved its funding bill by “an almost strictly party line vote of 235-189” on February 19.

 

Senate Democrats are already mustering their forces in opposition. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Chair of the Senate subcommittee that funds education, warned, “From crib to college, students will be at a disadvantage if the House proposal is enacted,” Harkin opined that “the smart way to bring down the deficit is for Congress to pursue a balanced approach of major spending cuts and necessary revenue increases while continuing to make investments in education.”

 

“Investing in education” has rhetorical appeal to parents, 46 percent of whom believe that schools need more money. But The Heritage Foundation has shown that over the past 25 years during which education spending increased by 138 percent, all indicators of educational improvement have remained flat.

 

Current spending reductions need to be put in perspective. In 2009, The Federal Department of Education (FDOE) received over $100 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the “Stimulus Bill.”

 

As The Heritage Foundation reported, some $80 billion in stimulus funds went “for K-12 education expenditures and nearly all of that is designed to help states ‘recover’ from budget shortfalls and prevent teacher layoffs.” Then in 2010 another $10 billion in “emergency” aid was dished out, presumably to save teacher’s jobs.

 

The additional $10 billion was approved by the Democrat-controlled House and Senate, without regard to the fact that by April 2010 over $36 billion of stimulus funding for education was still unspent. In the past two years, the FDOE received over $110 billion to distribute as it saw fit. Nevertheless, that apparently is not enough to feed the growing federal education leviathan. The current year’s budget request is $71 billion—$15 billion more than its 2010 budget of $56 billion.  Sen. Harkin’s crocodile tears not-with-standing, a cut in the current year budget of $5 billion still expands the ever burgeoning federal education budget by $10 billion.

 

It should be noted that Democrats have not been solely responsible for this monumental expansion of federal educations spending. It has been quietly growing under each succeeding president since Ronald Reagan.

 

The FDOE was set up under the Carter administration with a $14.5 billion budget and more than 4,000 employees, all transferred from other departments. As the Cato Institute noted in a handbook of policy recommendations produced for the 108th Congress (2003-2004), “Proponents claimed that cost savings would be realized, but opponents pointed out that a new department would require not only a new secretary but also the corresponding assistant secretaries, under secretaries, support staff, etc. . . . All of those would be necessary for the new department to look and act like a bona fide cabinet department.”

 

According Cato, “Critics of the department also pointed to the Department of Energy, formed two years earlier, which had been the subject of a tangle of regulations and confusing policies. Rep. John Rousselot (R-Calif.) said: ‘If you like the Department of Energy, you’ll love the Department of Education. You’ll have every bureaucrat in Washington looking at your school district.’”

 

Thirty-two years later, it’s clear whose predictions have come true. George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind program and Barak Obama’s Race to the Top, have brought bigger budgets and more Washington bureaucrats looking at our school districts than ever before. As Cato reported, after the creation of the Department of Education, federal spending on education increased at twice the rate it had before.

 

President Bush and the 108th Congress ignored the Cato Institute’s policy recommendations to “abolish the Department of Education and return education to the state, local, or family level, as provided by the Constitution.” Instead, during Bush’s eight years in office, the FDOE’s budget grew by a whopping 33 percent, increasing from $42.2 billion in 2001 to $56 billion in 2008.

 

The notion of “investing in education” is appealing, but a hard look at previous investments shows little improvement for all the billions of taxpayers’ dollars that have been given to the federal educational establishment to distribute.

 

Federal money is the carrot each administration since President Lyndon Johnson has used to entice states to get on board with its particular educational goals. Now President Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are pushing states to sign on to “Core Standards”—another term for a national curriculum—something the majority of states deplored in the past.

 

The Department of Education may be giving carrots to the states, but it’s larding its own trough with pork. There are now five thousand government workers running its programs and agencies. All of these workers, of course, receive salaries substantially higher than their private sector counterparts.

 

When will the American taxpayers rise up and say enough is enough?  It’s time to take back control of America’s schools and slay dragon FedEd with its voracious appetite by abolishing the Federal Department of Education and returning education to the state, local, and family level, as provided by the Constitution.

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Coral Ridge Ministries and author of The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk. Dr. Gushta is a career educator who has taught at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate level teacher education, in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. Dr. Gushta served as the first international director of Kid’s Evangelism Explosion. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Indiana University and Masters degrees in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico and in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

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