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11-14-2015 Rokita Report
Thank you for the opportunity to update you on the work of the 114th Congress. I trust this finds you and your family well, as we work together to bring Hoosier common sense to Washington.
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In this week's Rokita Report
The content and quality of the education that university students are receiving has jumped to the front of the news in recent weeks. Universities seek to create "safe spaces" where students are kept from being exposed to ideas that could be considered offensive. Undercover videos have shown college administrators agreeing that our Constitution could be considered offensive. When prompted, some university officials even agreed to shred a copy of the Constitution to create a safer environment.
This news reminds me of an article by Peter Berkowitz that I read titled Why Colleges Don't Teach the Federalist Papers that first appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 2012. Berkowitz explains the history and importance of the Federalist. This collection of essays was written by our Founding Fathers to explain the ideas of the Constitution and serves as "a treatise on constitutional self-government for the ages." These documents "stand as an unsurpassed source of insight into the Constitution's text, structure, and purposes." And yet, Berkowitz points out that in many of our nation's elite colleges, students can receive degrees in Political Science without ever reading from the Federalist.
Berkowitz explains that the "problem is that the progressive ideology that dominates our universities teaches that The Federalist, like all books written before the day before yesterday, is antiquated and irrelevant." This despite the fact that our Constitution remains the basis for our laws and has remained intact since 1787 with only twenty-eight amendments.
Today the news is filled with reports of college students protesting against dissenting views, dismissing the importance of constitutional protections, and not understanding that a free exchange of ideas is a hallmark of our Republic. The Federalist and documents by our founders are essential readings to understanding the founding of our nation and how we can have truly free democratic debates. If we have lost our way, our guidance should come from the Constitution and not the latest academic works.
Veterans Day Message
Wednesday was Veterans Day. I shared a video with an important message on how to best honor our veterans. Our service-members are called to serve in conflicts to protect our nation. Today we have twenty million veterans throughout our nation. They have served from World War II to the conflicts of today and they are our neighbors, family, and friends.
Our veterans fought for our country and the ideas for which our Republic stands. This includes the limited federal government ideas enshrined in our Constitution. To honor our veterans and protect the Constitution, we should discuss the Constitution in our daily lives - with our friends, family, and even those people we might not think we know all too well. Our Constitution holds the best ideas for self-governance, that the world has ever seen.
The video was shared by the following schools as part of their Veterans Day programs:
It was also incorporated into the program at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Home in Lafayette.
Clinton County Honors Our Troops
On Veterans Day, I was honored to participate in Frankfort's ceremony honoring our veterans. I addressed the crowd that gathered to remember our troops in Veterans Park in Clinton County. It was a chance to remember and honor the service of all of the veterans who have made our country great. I was able to thank our veterans and active duty service-members for all that they have done for our nation and have sacrificed. Thanks to their work, we continue to preserve our American Exceptionalism.
I also visited American Legion Indiana Post 12. The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a veterans organization and continues to be our nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization. Their posts throughout the country serve war veterans.
At the Frankfort post, I met with veterans and heard their stories. I spoke with a World War II veteran. I heard from another on how he earned his Purple Heart. It was humbling that they would take time from their day to share with me their experiences. The American Legion Hall also had a truly historic document on display, a newspaper from November 11, 1918, the day that the fighting for World War I ended. The next year, President Woodrow Wilson declared a celebration of "Armistice Day" and over the years, the day has evolved into our annual Veterans Day holiday.
As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, I am working to push back against federal overreach in our local schools. The best place to find out the situation in our schools is by visiting.
As Representative, I have visited thirty-seven schools. Twenty-three of the schools are in Indiana. As Chairman of the Subcommittee, I understand that federal laws and Washington bureaucrats are making decisions that impact schools across the United States. It is important to visit schools to see first-hand how federal testing requirements are turning the Department of Education (DOE) into a national school board. These visits also provide a ground level look at how school lunch regulations are feeding garbage cans better than they serve our children by requiring schools provide meals that children will not eat. Federal regulations have different impacts across the country, and each school visit is an opportunity to see federal regulatory burdens in a different way.
Ultimately, schools across the country are facing similar issues. Parents want to take back local control, because our nation's communities understand the unique needs of their school children better than Washington. This is a message that I have heard from parents across the nation, from coast to coast, to moms and dads in Washington, D.C., and especially from Hoosier families. To empower parents, I have coauthored legislation including the Student Success Act which would replace No Child Left Behind, while returning decision-making authority for school and student accountability to states while consolidating duplicative education programs. By taking power away from the federal government, Hoosier parents win.
Thank you for your continued interest in Congress and for supporting my efforts to bring Hoosier common sense to Washington. Take care.