A Leadership Challenge Only Women Can Solve

The Decay of American Public Education

Connecting the Dots

1920 The 19th Constitutional Amendment is passed granting 50% of the adult population the same right to vote that all men received 50 years earlier.

1921 The first full year for “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”…including women.

1922 Walter Lippmann’s book Public Opinion rejects the democratic teaching that a public can be enlightened, that a democracy on the scale of a nation can educate the citizens to be rational participants in policy or governance. He advocates in so many words “Government of professionals, by professionals, for the benefit of the people.”

1940 The U.S. Supreme Court in Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586 (1943) holds that the First Amendment does not require States to excuse public school students from saluting the American flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance on religious grounds. Only one justice dissented. Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote the majority decision. He said “the courtroom is not the arena for debating issues of educational policy. It is not our province to choose among competing considerations in the subtle process of securing effective loyalty to the traditional ideals of democracy, while respecting at the same time individual idiosyncracies among a people so diversified in racial origins and religious allegiances. So to hold would, in effect, make us the school board for the country. That authority has not been given to this Court, nor should we assume it.” Frankfurter wrote that the school district’s interest in creating national unity was enough to allow them to require students to salute the flag. According to Frankfurter, the nation needed loyalty and the unity of all the people. Since saluting the flag was a primary means of achieving this legitimate goal, an issue of national importance was at stake. The Court held that the state’s interest in “national cohesion” was “inferior to none in the hierarchy of legal values”. National unity is the basis of national security. The flag, the Court found, was an important symbol of national unity and could be a part of legislative initiatives designed “to promote in the minds of children who attend the common schools an attachment to the institutions of their country.”

1943 West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). Just three years after the nearly unanimous Minersville decision the US Supreme Court assumes the power to determine educational policy and override the deliberative judgment of a profession outside their subject matter expertise. The emotional dissenting opinion by Justice Felix Frankfurter is widely criticized while the court’s majority opinion is praised as a landmark decision…by most of the legal profession. This decision starts American society towards the goal of “Government of the legal profession, by the Supreme Court for the benefit of the people.”

1952 the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) expanded its Codes of Practice to include television in 1952. These codes, inspired by previous court decisions, government urging, and public opinion, were completely voluntary. The programming standards suggested by the codes encouraged educational, cultural, children’s, and news programming. One provision was the Family Viewing Time block, which allotted certain evening hours for family-friendly programming that, consequently, contained fewer advertisements.

1960 Publication of The Semi-Sovereign People by E.E. Schattschneider. He argues that the actual practice of democracy in America has nothing to do with its popular image as government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Political outcomes seldom correspond with popular preferences given the very low level of participation and political awareness; real decisions are made by much smaller groups composed of “the most educated and highest-income members of society”.

1966 U.S. Office of Education publishes its report entitled Equality of Educational Opportunity prepared by James Coleman from Johns Hopkins and his colleagues (Coleman et al., 1966). It was released on July 4, 1966, to avoid publicity for what were regarded as politically intemperate findings. The report was supposed to document what most assumed to be true: poor and minority children performed poorly in school because their schools lacked resources. Instead, the Coleman report (as it became known) discovered that differences among schools in average resources were not nearly as great as expected, and the impact of school resources on student achievement was modest compared to the impact of students’ family backgrounds. See Gamoran, A., & Long, D. A. (2006). Equality of Educational Opportunity: A 40-year retrospective (WCER Working Paper No. 2006-9). Madison: University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

1976 United States District Court in Writers Guild of America v Federal Communications Commission (1976) found the National Association of Broadcasters Code of Good Practice programming standard in violation of the first amendment rights of the Writers Guild of America, West. The Court found the provision for the Family Viewing Time Block, which allotted certain evening hours for family-friendly programming, unconstitutional. By 1982 the federal court forced Broadcasters to abandon the code altogether. See The Decline of Broadcast Ethics: U.S. v. NAB by Val E Limburg, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Vol. 4, No. 2 pp. 214-231, 1989

1980 In Stone v Graham the Supreme Court the Court issued a per curiam decision and reversed the lower court without hearing argument. Invoking the Lemon test, the Court found that there was no secular purpose behind the posting of a plaque with “Honor thy father and mother” and nine other social values in public school classrooms. The court decided that these ten values constituted a sacred religious text, and their posting, without any connection to the curriculum, could only be for the purpose of promoting certain religious views.

1996 Historian Christopher Lasch’s last book, Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy argues that the governing elite in the United States has lost faith in the traditional values that have animated and organized American culture since its inception. He sees the greatest threat to western culture is a rejection of its liberal and pluralistic values by the governing elite that run its institutions and educates its children.

2000 Publication of Parents and Schools: The 150-Year Struggle for Control in American Education by William W. Cutler III, University of Chicago Press. “Who holds ultimate authority for the education of America’s children—teachers or parents? Although the relationship between home and school has changed dramatically over the decades, William Cutler’s fascinating history argues that it has always been a political one, and his book uncovers for the first time how and why the balance of power has shifted over time. Starting with parental dominance in the mid-nineteenth century, Cutler chronicles how schools’ growing bureaucratization and professionalization allowed educators to gain increasing control over the schooling and lives of the children they taught.” Publisher’s Summary

2009 Publication of Life Without Lawyers; Liberating Americans From Too Much Law by Philip Howard. In his latest prescriptive survey of American law abuse and its consequences, Howard (The Death of Common Sense, The Collapse of the Common Good) sticks to the formula: one ghastly anecdote after another demonstrating how the justice system hinders freedom and confounds Americans who simply want to do the right thing. Either through litigation or the fear of it, Howard argues, we’ve ceded our everyday decision-making to the lawyers …Chair of nonpartisan advocacy organization Common Good, Howard has a great deal of knowledge and a catalog of abuses that will elicit fury and despair. For the third time in some 15 years, Howard agitates for change by asking “How did the land of freedom become a legal minefield?” Publishers Weekly

2013 Francis Fukuyama, Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute of Stanford University writes an article for The American Interest entitled The Ties That Used to Bind: The Decay of American Political Institutions. “The decay in the quality of American government has to do directly with the American penchant for a state of “courts and parties”, which has returned to center stage in the past fifty years. The courts and legislature have increasingly usurped many of the proper functions of the executive, making the operation of the government as a whole both incoherent and inefficient. The steadily increasing judicialization of functions that in other developed democracies are handled by administrative bureaucracies has led to an explosion of costly litigation, slow decision-making and highly inconsistent enforcement of laws. The courts, instead of being constraints on government, have become alternative instruments for the expansion of government. Ironically, out of a fear of empowering “big government”, the United States has ended up with a government that is very large, but that is actually less accountable because it is largely in the hands of unelected courts.” NY Times Opinion Dec 25, 2014 The Best Lawyers Money Can Buy

2014 Ferguson, MO, NYC et al “No Justice, No Peace” protests throughout the US

In summary, go to Google’s Ngram Viewer then copy and paste in the following words:

US Supreme Court,federal government,state government,local government

You will graphically see how the political influence of the US Supreme Court has grown since the 1940s. Why is the problem below one that only women will solve? ANS: Because mothers have a biological investment in their children’s welfare. They know, almost by instinct, that a good education is the key that opens the doors of opportunity for their children. Good mothers know that the best way to preserve, protect and defend the welfare of their child is to preserve, protect and defend the quality of the education they receive.

 What is the Women’s Leadership Challenge?

 To hold the US Supreme Court accountable for their abuse of power when they assumed the power to be the Supreme School Board of the United States.

P.S. The following section “A.C.T ing” touches upon the apparent disregard socially prominent, well-educated women leaders can have for women who are not famous, wealthy or powerful. A similar psychological disconnect existed between the leaders of the women’s movement in the 1800s and women like Sojourner Truth.


The Maid of Gettysburg by K.D. Rupp: Dog Ear Publishing, 2012 N.B. Puts the above events into a short story anyone can understand.

Life Without Lawyers by Philip K. Howard: W.W. Norton and Co, 2009 N.B. See above 2009

Power Concedes Nothing: One Woman’s Quest for Social Justice in America, from the Courtroom to the Kill Zones; by Connie Rice; Scribner, 2012 N.B. For a description of what the absense of law and order looks like in an American city read Chapter 10 entitled Epiphany.

Extraordinary Evil: A Short Walk to Genocide by Barbara Coloroso; Nation Books, 2007 N.B. For a description of how a government can use its power to destroy minorities they ought to protect read this book.

The Social Conquest of Earth by Edward O. Wilson; Liveright Publisher, 2013 N.B. Puts the importance of the home and those that nurture and protect their young into a biological perspective. His conclusion is if you don’t nurture and protect your young you don’t survive. The number one reason black males are dying young in the United States, in my opinion.

Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy by Francis Fukuyama; Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publisher, 2014 N.B. Puts the above events into a format familiar to political scientists

Sex and World Peace by Valerie Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli and Chad F. Emmett; Columbia University Press, 2012 N.B. Provides a female perspective on political order that Fukuyama totally ignores, because he and his mentor, Samuel Huntington, were never taught the woman’s global perspective at Harvard.

Any News Source. by Any Journalist With Integrity Covering Syria and Iraq. N.B. For a description of what unaccountable men do to women when put in absolute power read any story about ISIS and how they treat women…or read Plato’s parable The Ring of Gyges.

The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen by Kwame Anthony Appiah; W. W. Norton & Company, 2011 N.B. A book that inspires hope for those with the moral courage to fight for social justice.