No Time to Lose: Why America Needs an Education Amendment to the Constitution

2009 – This report outlines the case for an education amendment to reduce gross disparities in the allocation of resources and funds for the education of the nation’s public school students. It analyzes the current imperatives for improving U.S. public schools; recent trends in interstate and intrastate financing of public education; and the effects of radical disparities in educational resources at local, state, and federal levels. SEF’s report argues that education is now so vital to the nation’s well-being that Americans can no longer afford to maintain the current antiquated systems of public education, which fail to ensure all students a high-quality opportunity to learn irrespective of place, class, or race.

The report examines:

  • The impact of education on the nation’s competitiveness in the global economy, democratic values and civic engagement, national security and the opportunity of an ever-diverse citizenry to realize the American Dream.
  • How intrastate and interstate patterns of resource and finance allocation for public education are vastly uneven and have combined to create inadequate and inferior opportunities to learn, especially for low income and minority students, across the United States.
  • The inability of state and local governments with limited taxable wealth to generate revenues necessary to ensure that all students have access to an opportunity to learn that corresponds to evolving standards of education adequacy.
  • How the federal government’s ill-defined and variable role in public education contributes to grossly inadequate public education systems that deprive the nation of the highly skilled people it needs as a matter of national interest.
  • How an education amendment to the US Constitution would provide a permanent framework to address gross disparities in educational resources and finance and foster new, more effective relations between levels of government.

The report argues the day is close at hand when America will simply have too many uneducated, undereducated or miseducated people and too few financial resources with which to effect fundamental changes to address such a problem. An education amendment offers the possibility of change before it is too late. Putting “education” in the US Constitution is an idea, a possibility, whose time has come.

Without a fair, high-quality public education system, America’s promise of democracy and opportunity is an empty shell, and the nation’s future is imperiled. America has no time to lose.

-Lynn Huntley