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An Amendment to the Constitution: "Education as a Right of Citizenship"

Updated on June 28, 2014

Thomas Jefferson in His Own words

"I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education."[1]


Measuring Greatness

The modern political catch-phrase coined by Tom Brokaw, embraced by Corporate & Media Elite alike, is “The Greatest Generation” of Americans as the generation that fought and lived during World War II.

“The young Americans of this time constituted a generation birth-marked for greatness, a generation of Americans that would take its place in American history with the generations that had converted the North American wilderness into the United States and infused the new nation with self-determination embodied first in the Declaration of Independence and then in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”[2]

I am sitting here and wondering to myself what that means “Greatest Generation of Americans”, but more to the point, what does that imply pursuant to the rest of us!

First, my Uncle is a veteran of World War II. He showed up in France shortly after D-Day. He was fighting with the 9th Army just north of the events associated with the Battle of the Bulge. He would stay in the Army after the war as part of the occupation force in Germany. Then he would spend most of the rest of his life as a farmer. His is still the most honest and respectable man I have ever known. But like most of his generation he failed to heed the warning of his senior commander in the field, President Dwight David Eisenhower when he warned of the threat of the Military-Industrial Complex.

“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together”. [3]

“Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” How powerful and clear have these words resonated across time. And, just how well does Eisenhower see what our society was capable of becoming, and has become.

“We should take nothing for granted.” But that is just what America’s greatest generation did.

We are talking about a generation of Americans that Richard Nixon called the Silent Majority during the issues and events associated with the Vietnam War. A generation that was willing to believe that their leaders could not and would not, do wrong.

"The picture of the world's greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1,000 noncombatants a week while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission on an issue whose merits are hotly disputed, is not a pretty one." - Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in a private letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson, May 1967[4]

This is a generation that has sat back and allowed Corporate America to seize control of our political process, in the form of the Military-Industrial Complex. This is a generation that has allowed this group to privatizing many aspects of our government functions to include the military, prisons, and worst of all education. This is a group that given the opportunity will privatize Social Security, or destroy it once and for all time, because they want the money for themselves.

This is a generation that allowed Ronald Reagan and Corporate America to begin the process of dismantling all of the best and most effective aspects of the New Deal in an effort to create an enslaved society of debtors. Nowhere can this effort be more clearly seen than in a national student debt that has reached over $1 trillion dollars.

“It’s a negative sum game for both student-borrowers and the economy. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student loan debt has reached a new milestone, crossing the $1.2 trillion mark — $1 trillion of that in federal student loan debt.

This pushes student loan debts to dizzying new heights, as they now account for the second highest form of consumer debt behind mortgages… With the federal debt at $16.7 trillion, student loan debts measure at 6% of the overall national debt…The majority of student loans are backed by the U.S. government through banks like Sallie Mae, or since 2010, by the Department of Education. Translation: the creditor in this scenario is the U.S. tax payer, who if students default on these loans will be subject to carry the burden of these loans.” [5]

Student loans debt is the “second highest form of consumer debt behind mortgages”. It was the manipulation and sale of alleged toxic mortgages, the manipulation of mortgage debt on the stock market that brought down the economy this last time around. Events that likely would not have taken place had the New Deal policies such as the Glass-Steagall Act that affected regulation of these transactions been in play.

“The repeal of Glass-Steagall may not have caused the crisis — but its repeal was a factor that made it much worse. And it was a continuum of the radical deregulation movement. This philosophy incorrectly held that banks could regulate themselves, that government had no place in overseeing finance and that the free market works best when left alone. This belief system manifested itself in damaging ways, including eliminating regulation and oversight on derivatives, allowing exemptions for excess leverage rules for a handful of players and creating dangerous legislation.”[6]

The question at this point, is what cost has our education system paid in the process of creating this latest unsurmountable debt?

Going into the middle of the 20th century the United States Education System was regarded as the finest education system in the world. People from all over the world brought their children to America to be educated here.

" As recently as 20 years ago, the United States was ranked No.1 in high school and college education...In 2009, the United States was ranked 18th out of 36 industrialized nations." [7]

What happened to the # 1 ranked education system in the world?

“It was a different story 70 years ago, when most Americans thought college was only for the wealthy elite. That changed after World War II with the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the GI Bill of Rights… The law made college affordable for a group of veterans who never would have thought of going beyond high school, says John Thelin, a professor at the University of Kentucky and author of A History of American Higher Education.

The GI Bill was an unexpected success, Thelin says, enrolling just under 8 million veterans — 10 times the number the authors of the bill had predicted… This sudden, enormous demand, Thelin adds, could have pushed college costs higher — but didn't, because states embraced the idea. The booming postwar economy allowed them to spend unprecedented sums of money to expand higher education… While states were investing, the federal government was carving out a new role for itself: helping families pay for college. It spawned the National Defense Student Loan program, later called the Federal Perkins Loan program, which did for civilians what the GI Bill had done for veterans — and opened college gates even wider…Then, with the civil rights movement as the backdrop, the landmark Higher Education Act of 1965 pushed for greater college access for women and minorities… Americans flocked to campuses with the expectation that the government was going to foot part of the bill, and college did become affordable for many more Americans…But a turning point arrived around 1970, Thelin says. With double-digit inflation, an oil embargo and a sputtering economy, a perfect storm began to build. College tuition and fees climbed as much or more than the inflation rate. Private loans, heavily subsidized by the federal government, gradually replaced federal grants as the main source of money for both poor and middle-class college students…As family income fell, borrowing to pay for college took off, while public investment in higher education dropped. Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute says that drop has been the single biggest reason for the increase in college costs…"So it's not that colleges are spending more money to educate students," Baum says. "It's that they have to get that money from someplace to replace their lost state funding — and that's from tuition and fees from students and families… While most institutions tried to keep costs down, Baum says, some took advantage of the public perception that a high tuition means a quality education…Experts say parents are slowly but surely becoming smarter consumers of higher education and are helping their kids find less-expensive options — like community college — while coming to the realization that a college education never will be the entitlement that many Americans thought it was 30 or 40 years ago.” [8]

The key in this discussion as to what happened to our education system is seen in this paragraph. “The GI Bill was an unexpected success, Thelin says, enrolling just under 8 million veterans — 10 times the number the authors of the bill had predicted… This sudden, enormous demand, Thelin adds, could have pushed college costs higher — but didn't, because states embraced the idea…The booming postwar economy allowed them to spend unprecedented sums of money to expand higher education… While states were investing, the federal government was carving out a new role for itself: helping families pay for college. It spawned the National Defense Student Loan program, later called the Federal Perkins Loan program, which did for civilians what the GI Bill had done for veterans — and opened college gates even wider…Then, with the civil rights movement as the backdrop, the landmark Higher Education Act of 1965 pushed for greater college access for women and minorities… Americans flocked to campuses with the expectation that the government was going to foot part of the bill, and college did become affordable for many more Americans”

The idea of all that potential profit going to waste in the form of tax dollars spent on educating the people. Surely corporations could do a much better job of managing education in America! It should also be worthy of note that the issues associated with the Veteran’s Administration of late be seen in the same context. Treating the GI Bill as an entitlement should give one a clear picture of how the Military-Industrial Complex really views the value of the military men and women who do the actual fighting.

“But a turning point arrived around 1970, Thelin says. With double-digit inflation, an oil embargo and a sputtering economy, a perfect storm began to build. College tuition and fees climbed as much or more than the inflation rate. Private loans, heavily subsidized by the federal government, gradually replaced federal grants as the main source of money for both poor and middle-class college students…As family income fell, borrowing to pay for college took off, while public investment in higher education dropped. Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute says that drop has been the single biggest reason for the increase in college costs…"So it's not that colleges are spending more money to educate students," Baum says. "It's that they have to get that money from someplace to replace their lost state funding — and that's from tuition and fees from students and families.”

This last paragraph has some truth mixed into it, but it wasn’t just “double-digit inflation, an oil embargo and a sputtering economy”… that created “a perfect storm.” As it relates to student debt there was a far more aggressive thought process in play.

“While running for the governorship, Mr. Reagan shrewdly made the most of disorder on University of California campuses. For instance, he demanded a legislative investigation of alleged Communism and sexual misconduct at the University of California at Berkeley. He insisted on public hearings, claiming "a small minority of hippies, radicals and filthy speech advocates" had caused disorder and that they should "be taken by the scruff of the neck and thrown off campus -- permanently",

Once elected, Mr. Reagan set the educational tone for his administration by:

a. calling for an end to free tuition for state college and university students,

b. annually demanding 20% across-the-board cuts in higher education funding,

c. repeatedly slashing construction funds for state campuses

d. engineering the firing of Clark Kerr, the popular President of the University of California, and

e. declaring that the state "should not subsidize intellectual curiosity”[9]

The focus of Reagan policy toward the institutions of education in California was focused on students protesting the Vietnam War. But, he was harping on the cost of education as a waste of our tax dollars. His policies helped create tuition based funding of education, but not because of the economy. It was the idea that young people in our country were challenging the policies of our involvement in Vietnam.

His attitude about Vietnam speaks for itself.

“We are at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it has been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening.”[10]

Through the Freedom of Information Act, Seth Rosenfeld uncovered the truth about what Ronald Reagan and J. Edgar Hoover sought to do about the campus unrest at Berkeley associated with the Vietnam War.

“For Reagan, the relationship with Hoover went back to the McCarthy Era paranoia over communism and the HUAC House Un-American Activities Committee days. As Reagan secretly helped the FBI in their investigation of Hollywood Communists…"Here was a public university that offered a tuition-free education rivaling those offered by Harvard, Princeton, or Yale; employed a constellation of Nobel laureates; and held millions of dollars in government research contracts...In the cold war atmosphere of the late 40's and early 50's, the director's concern had grown when scores of faculty members refused to sign a special loyalty oath for university employees."[11]

It wasn’t just student unrest that was the focal point of their beliefs, it was the idea that the whole Progressive Era was some sort of communist attempt to overthrow the country. It was the whole of the Civil Rights Movement, and the idea that “All Men are Created Equal” being taken literally that scared them. We ended up dealing with a minority of individuals with considerable political clout coupled with the support of the corporate will and money to back up that power that has aggressively and deliberately changed our political landscape.

In the 1960’s, it was hard for the “Greatest Generation” to disagree, because the World War II mentality was so persuasive. The Joint Chiefs and major conservative elements in our government successfully tried to treat the Vietnam War as a need to operate from a position of strength, rather than negotiation. They did this by repeatedly citing Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Nazi Germany before World War II. As if Vietnam had the industrial capability to pose that kind of threat. They successfully treated Vietnam as a cornerstone of the Domino Theory. They successfully used Ho Chi Minh and the North Vietnamese to seize upon this as their rallying cry.

However, when discussing the Vietnam War it is important to remember that Ho Chi Minh was an ally in World War II.

“Some will be shocked to find out that the United States and Ho Chi Minh, our nemesis for much of the Vietnam War, were once allies. Indeed, during the last year of World War II, American spies in Indochina found themselves working closely with Ho Chi Minh and other anti-colonial factions—compelled by circumstances to fight together against the Japanese.”[12]

There is a recent documentary out called "JFK: A President Betrayed", 2013. One of the most significant information in this documentary as it relates to this subject is a small piece of film taken of JFK before he became President. He is speaking on the issue of Vietnam. As a student of history he understood that the Vietnamese wanted out from under colonial rule. In this case it was the French. Not unlike what we Americans had done in the Revolutionary War against England. Another speaks to conservative extremists who deliberately prevented any attempt to negotiate with Ho Chi Minh.

"I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as Vietnam continued to draw me and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such." Ho Chi Minh[13]

How ironic, that Ho Chi Minh would establish how the Military-Industrial Complex would pursue this war. What it would cost and more to the point, who would suffer, the American People. It’s even more ironic that these policies came as the result of treating college student across the country as alleged communists when in reality they were doing what the US Constitution gave them every right to do. Challenge the policies of their federal government.

The Military-Industrial Complex aligned themselves with Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and his son. The Cabinets and cast of characters surrounding these men include Dick Cheney.

“To Cheney, Watergate was not a tragedy of a president keeping evil deeds secret; it was a tragedy of a president not keeping those deeds secret enough from Congress, the press, and the public.”[14]

When you take into consideration the events surrounding Watergate and then Iran/Contra and then WMD as the justification for War in Iraq, just what was it between the mentality of the Nixon Administration and subsequent Republican Administrations that has changed?

Nothing!!!

Like the character playing “Deep Throat” in the movie “All the President’s Men”, 1976, whom we now know was W. Mark Felt Sr., Assistant Director of the FBI, the key to where things stood then and now comes from my favorite line in the movie “Follow the money”.

Cheney speaks volumes as to the intent and purpose of the Military-Industrial Complex. Where it was in its infancy and where it is today. Accountability pursuant to upholding the Constitution is of no consequence when you have no faith that the American People are capable of recognizing and dealing with the realities of the world in a nuclear age.

This takes me back to my original comment. I am sitting here and wondering to myself what that means “Greatest Generation of Americans”, but more to the point, what does that imply pursuant to the rest of us!

What is clear is that tuition based funding of education was born as a result of illegal activities on the part of the FBI and Ronald Reagan. Who sought to destroy the public education system, because the Young People in America had the audacity to challenge the authority of the extreme conservative elements of our Government, we now know as the Military-Industrial Complex.

These kids exercised their civil right not to agree with them. These kids some of whom were murdered had the necessary wherewithal to see the difference between a serious threat like Nazi Germany and the trumped up crap that became the Vietnam War.

The student protesters of the Vietnam War were right. Their concerns were clearly outlined in Eisenhower's discussion about the development and potential of the Military-Industrial Complex. A reality best defined as the business of maintaining a constant state of war designed to feed profits.

The only real crime committed by the students of the Vietnam War was aggressively attempting to practice Democracy. They were betrayed by the very people elected to support their efforts. A government caught up in McCarthy Era communist paranoia. A paranoia created by the onset of the Nuclear Age. And, with it the belief that the American People could no longer be trusted to exercised their role as Head of State.

Now Corporate America and mainstream conservative elements of American Society have conspired to divide the American People against themselves. They believe themselves better able deal with the government political process and the issues of our time. So, they have done just what Jefferson said could be done, they had been systematically taking that power away from us.

Our American Public Education system up to the Vietnam War was the finest education system in the world. It has been turned into an investment debt machine that keeps the American People focused on anything, but the running of the country. It has demonstrated that the corporate will is not in the best interest of the People. Nor will it likely ever be.

The time has come to amendment to the Constitution declaring education as a fundamental right of citizenship at it relates to need to keep the American People capable of being the Head of State in America.


Who is the Greatest Threat to America

The Military-Industrial Complex aligned themselves with Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and his son. The Cabinets and cast of characters surrounding these men include Dick Cheney.

“To Cheney, Watergate was not a tragedy of a president keeping evil deeds secret; it was a tragedy of a president not keeping those deeds secret enough from Congress, the press, and the public.”[14]

When you take into consideration the events surrounding Watergate and then Iran/Contra and then WMD as the justification for War in Iraq, just what was it between the mentality of the Nixon Administration and subsequent Republican Administrations that has changed?

Nothing!!!

Like the character playing “Deep Throat” in the movie “All the President’s Men”, 1976, whom we now know was W. Mark Felt Sr., Assistant Director of the FBI, the key to where things stood then and now comes from my favorite line in the movie “Follow the money”.

Cheney speaks volumes as to the intent and purpose of the Military-Industrial Complex. Where it was in its infancy and where it is today. Accountability pursuant to upholding the Constitution is of no consequence when you have no faith that the American People are capable of recognizing and dealing with the realities of the world in a nuclear age.

This takes me back to my original comment. I am sitting here and wondering to myself what that means “Greatest Generation of Americans”, but more to the point, what does that imply pursuant to the rest of us!

What is clear is that tuition based funding of education was born as a result of illegal activities on the part of the FBI and Ronald Reagan. Who sought to destroy the public education system, because the Young People in America had the audacity to challenge the authority of the extreme conservative elements of our Government, we now know as the Military-Industrial Complex.

These kids exercised their civil right not to agree with them. These kids some of whom were murdered had the necessary wherewithal to see the difference between a serious threat like Nazi Germany and the trumped up crap that became the Vietnam War.

The student protesters of the Vietnam War were right. Their concerns were clearly outlined in Eisenhower's discussion about the development and potential of the Military-Industrial Complex. A reality best defined as the business of maintaining a constant state of war designed to feed profits.

The only real crime committed by the students of the Vietnam War was aggressively attempting to practice Democracy. They were betrayed by the very people elected to support their efforts. A government caught up in McCarthy Era communist paranoia. A paranoia created by the onset of the Nuclear Age. And, with it the belief that the American People could no longer be trusted to exercised their role as Head of State.

Now Corporate America and mainstream conservative elements of American Society have conspired to divide the American People against themselves. They believe themselves better able deal with the government political process and the issues of our time. So, they have done just what Jefferson said could be done, they had been systematically taking that power away from us.

Our American Public Education system up to the Vietnam War was the finest education system in the world. It has been turned into an investment debt machine that keeps the American People focused on anything, but the running of the country. It has demonstrated that the corporate will is not in the best interest of the People. Nor will it likely ever be.

The time has come to amendment to the Constitution declaring education as a fundamental right of citizenship at it relates to the need to keep the American People capable of being the Head of State in America.

Finally, the greatest generation of Americans has yet to be established!!!


[1] http://famguardian.org/Subjects/Politics/ThomasJefferson/jeff1350.htm

Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820.

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/b/brokaw-generation.html

The Greatest Generation, By Tom Brokaw, 1998

[3] http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html

Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961, Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960, p. 1035- 1040

[4]A People and a Nation: A History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865,

Author: Norton, Mary Beth, Sheriff, Carol, Blight, David W. ISBN-13: 9780495915904,
ISBN: 0495915904, Edition: 9, Pub Date: 2011, Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing

Page 844

[5] http://www.forbes.com/sites/specialfeatures/2013/08/07/how-the-college-debt-is-crippling-students-parents-and-the-economy/

How The $1.2 Trillion College Debt Crisis Is Crippling Students, Parents And The Economy

Chris Denhart , Forbes Staff, 8/07/2013

[6] http://www.washingtonpost.com/repeal-of-glass-steagall-not-a-cause-but-a-multiplier/2012/08/02/gJQAuvvRXX_story.html

Repeal of Glass-Steagall: Not a cause, but a multiplier, BARRY RITHOLTZ August 4, 2012

[7] http://www.historynet.com/was-the-usa-ever-no-1-in-education.htm

Was the USA ever No. 1 in education? By Jon Guttman, 10/12/2012

[8] http://www.npr.org/2014/03/18/290868013/how-the-cost-of-college-went-from-affordable-to-sky-high

How The Cost Of College Went From Affordable To Sky-High by CLAUDIO SANCHEZ, March 18, 2014

[9] http://www.newfoundations.com/Clabaugh/CuttingEdge/Reagan.html

The Educational Legacy of Ronald Reagan, ©2004 Gary K. Clabaugh, edited 8/16/11

[10] http://www.patriotfiles.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37971

Ronald Reagan, 1964

[11] https://chronicle.com/article/Hoover-ReaganSpying-at/133461/

The FBI's Vendetta Against Berkeley, By Seth Rosenfeld, August 13, 2012

[12] The OSS and Ho Chi Minh, Unexpected Allies in the War against Japan,

Dixee R. Bartholomew-Feis oth ISBN 978-0-7006-1431-8, $34.95
Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-1652-7, $24.95

[13] http://www.shmoop.com/vietnam-war/quotes.html

North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, December 1966

[14] http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/jamie-stiehm/2011/08/29/dick-cheneys-memoir-the-saddest-story-of-our-time

Dick Cheney's Memoir the Saddest Story of Our Time, By Jamie Stiehm, Aug. 29, 2011

Education as a Fundamental Right

Should the Constitution Include an Education Amendment as a Right of Citizenship?

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