Something that bothered me

Author: Rory B. Bellows

I received my Master in Public Policy this past Sunday and I could not help but notice one significant fact: In this public policy program a course on the constitution was not required. The constitution is the road map for what government can and cannot do, but in this program the constitution was rarely, if ever, mentioned. This is a sympton of disease that prevaed our society, I highly doubt lawmakers at any level of government could even cite the clause in the constitution that authorizes the various actions they propose government take. In this program the focus was always on how government can accomplish various tasks, the questions of why we should do these things and, more importantly, if the document that is supposed to guide public policy allows for these actions was ignored. That’s not to say the program was a bad program, but the mindset of our society has gone off the tracks.

We had a variety of required courses but not one about the constitution. If programs exist to train individuals to be policy “experts”, and maybe the fact that we want to train teams of government experts is a fundamental flaw in and of itselt, a core principle of that training should be scholarship and understanding about the constituion, the debates the framers had when writing it and what the document intends to do. This problem isn’t one that is exclusive to public policy programs, it extends to all levels of education. Americans have very little understanding of the nature of the constitution and the philosophy of government it outlines. Granted, the idea of restrained and limited government has been under assault since the day the federal government came into existance, but that does not mean the document is merely a suggestion as to how government should operate.

1 Response to “Something that bothered me”

  1. 1 Justin May 19, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I agree. Way too many of our *educated* citizens do not understand the underpinnings of our government. Especially in a public policy program, in which the students’ charge is to guide government action, a constitutional law class is imperative.

    It’s one of those aspects that is so obvious, but it is rarely considered. (I never considered it.)

    BTW, my parents congressman, Rush Holt, always carries a pocket sized copy of the Constitution.

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