Retconstitution

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In the letters section of USA Today (Feb. 15), Pat Orzechowski of Cincinnati wrote, under the title “Two-tier schools seem wrong”: “I think our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves. Why? Because some people are advocating a two-tier schools system . . . The idea is to divide America’s public school system into two, one for employees and one for entrepreneurs. Our forefathers came to this country for freedom.” And apparently also for the free government education, according to Orzechowski.

Obviously no student of the works of Joel Spring, among others, Orzechowski is unaware that the phenomenon he describes is at least decades old. Government schools in America have sorted children by ability since at least the early part of the Cold War. Spring’s 1976 work “The Sorting Machine: National Educational Policy Since 1945” discusses this in detail. In “The Bell Curve,” Charles Murray discusses the phenomenon as a reason high IQ is more and more segregated in our society.

But the amusing part is that Pat thinks the sorting would cause the Founders to pirouette horizontally. Orzechowski seems to believe that their document begins: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, and have the Government educate our Children, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

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