On Wednesday, July 2, 2008, the Democratic Presumptive Presidential Nominee Sen. Barack Obama, in his speech at the University of Colorado on national service, promised that, if elected as president of the United States of America he would “set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year.”
Sen. Obama has promised that he would ensure that these federally mandated goals are met by, among other things, attaching strings to federal education dollars. States whose school systems and universities didn’t meet federal quotas for student performed public service hours would be denied federal educational dollars.
While this plan does not – despite some conservative pundit’s rants – violate the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery and most other forms of forced servitude, it is still a vile and pernicious assault on both States’ rights and individual liberty.
One must remember that a similar (mis)use of federal education dollars to enforce a federally mandated curriculum, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), has been reviled and complained about for years now. Yet it at least centered on curriculum and results-oriented accountability, whereas Obama’s proposed use of federal education dollars is for the purpose of mandating public service efforts by students.
Perhaps Sen. Obama should spend less time analyzing how he could, if elected as president, circumvent the 10th Amendment – which strictly limits the powers of the Federal Government – and spend more time reviewing the relevant Child Labor laws such as the the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
NOTE: This post only deals with that part of Obama’s National Service plan that deals with using federal education dollars to coerce the States into requiring public service work-hour quotas from students. There are other points in his plan that I endorse in principle, though as in all things involving the federal bureaucracy, I am skeptical of the implementation.