Betsy DeVos Now Criticized for Giving Too Much Flexibility to States

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos can’t make anyone happy. I’ve highlighted how the U.S. Department of Education was criticized (rightly) for being nitpicky toward state accountability plans.

Now the Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), accused her of approving plans that flaunt federal law.

Education Week reports:

Addressing Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the committee chairman, Murray said, “If the department is today ignoring the agreement we made in the law and just choosing to implement whatever it feels like—which I believe they are in their approval of state plans so far—then this committee needs to hear from the secretary directly about how she intends to follow the laws that Congress agrees to.”

This isn’t a brand-new criticism from Murray, but rather a somewhat fleshed-out version of a previous complaint.

In a confirmation hearing for several Education Department nominees earlier this month, Murray made a general allusion to this concern. On Tuesday, Murray was a little more specific in her concerns about ESSA plans and how the law handles school improvement. But she didn’t single out the state or states she was worried about.

First, these remarks by Murray demonstrate that ESSA never gave true local control back to states. How stringently the law is enforced will depend on the administration. It is clear Murray expected there to be clear boundaries for states to stay within. Again, I say, that’s not local control

Secondly, if Murray has a concern, she should spell it out. Name names. It’s difficult to address or refute a challenge that is hopelessly vague. If she is going to make comments like these, she needs to bring up specifics – specific plans and the particular text in the law that plan violates.

Third, the only way for Congress to avoid political games like these is to repeal ESSA and genuinely devolve control of education policymaking back to the states. While states have to continue to ask “Mother, may I?” with the U.S. Department of Education they do not have control.

Tracking FEPA in the U.S. Senate

The Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA) (H.R. 4174) passed in the U.S. House of Representatives after the rules were suspended and a voice vote taken. The Senate companion bill (S.2046) was introduced by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) who is the ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee.

The Senate bill has been read twice and was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Here is the list of the committee members along with their Twitter handles and office phone numbers.

The primary issue with FEPA is that it would create a “unified evidence-building plan” for the entire federal government – in essence, a national database containing data from every federal agency on every citizen.

What could possibly go wrong there?

Please read and share this one-pager on the bill about why student privacy advocates have grave concerns about this bill.

FEPA Passes U.S. House By Voice Vote

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

The Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA) (H.R. 4174) passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a voice vote on Wednesday afternoon after House rules were suspended in order to pass the bill. The bill was sponsored by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

This is typically done when a bill is considered “non-controversial.”

That isn’t the case with this bill. Two-thirds of the members present must vote in favor. The debate is limited to 40 minutes, and no amendments can be added.

Since it was a voice vote there was no roll call and we don’t know how each Representative voted.

No one spoke in opposition to the bill. You can listen to the “debate” below, as audio was captured by Cheri Kiesecker:

There is a companion bill in the Senate (S. 2046) sponsored by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

Emmett McGroarty, a senior fellow with American Principles Project, made the following statement before the bill’s passage in the House.

Pressured by powerful lobbyists in Washington, Congress is about to take the first steps toward allowing massive data-mining by ‘researchers’ in the name of ‘transparency’ and ‘evidence.’ This will inevitably result in intrusive dossiers on citizens that will vastly expand the power of the already unaccountable administrative state. Citizens have the right to know that the personal data they turn over to the federal government stays with the agency to which it was submitted, and is not shared with other agencies for other purposes. Trampling on individual rights in this manner is bad enough; doing so without even fair hearing and debate is simply unconscionable. Congress must defeat this bill and protect individual freedom. If Congress refuses to do so, President Trump should veto this bill.

See and share this one-pager on the bill about why student privacy advocates have grave concerns about this bill and don’t find it “non-controversial” in the least.

The Big Congressional Data Grab Is Underway

Speaker Paul Ryan (on right) talking with Vice President Mike Pence.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Foundations for Evidenced-Based Policymaking Act today which will create a national data clearinghouse that includes student data. Co-sponsors of the legislation also include House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX), and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI).

This bill follows the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking’s final report who recommended what Ryan argued for “a transparent, efficient, and well-designed data system that is both accessible by federal agencies and secure for those who contribute.”

The key takeaways from the report are:

  • Security, Privacy, and Confidentiality: The report outlines recommendations for improving access to data that protects peoples’ privacy without sacrificing the information sought in the process. The commission also outlines protections to modernize the process. This means Americans enrolled in government programs can maintain their privacy while benefitting the greater goal.
  • Modernizing Data Infrastructure: The commission recommends building upon and enhancing the expertise and infrastructure to ensure secure record linkage and data access. This would increase transparency and better enable policymakers—and the public—to hold government programs accountable.
  • Strengthened Capacity: Privacy and accessibility are key, but so is ensuring the evidence-building community has the manpower it needs. By establishing administrative and program requirements within the federal government, evidence-based efforts will become a central part of both evaluating current programs and policies of the future.

Below is the summary for the bill:

Summary: The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act

Title I, Federal Evidence-Building Activities

  • Requires federal agencies to submit an evidence-building plan, which will be consolidated into one government-wide plan by the Office of Management and Budget
  • Requires federal agencies to appoint/designate a Chief Evaluation Officer to coordinate evidence-building activities within the agency
  • Establishes an advisory committee on data for evidence building

Title II, OPEN Government Act

  • Ensures maximum data availability while respecting privacy and national security concerns
  • Requires federal agencies to appoint/designate a Chief Data Officer
  • Instructs federal agencies to establish a data inventory and federal data catalogue

Title III, Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency

  • Expands access to data while improving privacy standards

Jane Robbins warned about what was coming down the pike in March:

The vehicle for imposing expanded citizen surveillance is a new federal panel called the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. The Speaker worked with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) on the legislation to create the Commission, which “is charged with reviewing the inventory, infrastructure, and protocols related to data from federal programs and tax expenditures while developing recommendations for increasing the availability and use of this data in support of rigorous program evaluation.”

The appeal of this Commission to “conservatives” is that it will recommend ways to evaluate federal programs and see which ones work and which are a waste of money We need a commission for this? If we just assume all federal programs are a waste, we’ll be right at least 95 percent of the time. And the federal government routinely ignores research, such as the massive evidence that Head Start is useless, that doesn’t support its preferred policies.

But “program evaluation” is the excuse. And the basis of the Commission’s work will be expanded sharing of personal data on American citizens. In a free society, that’s a price too high to pay.

The bill gives lip service to privacy and security, but in the same breath says it will expand access to the data it collects.

“Privacy and security” I don’t think means what they think it means.

The Big Congressional Data Grab is underway.

Skipping Down the Bipartisan Path Toward Big Data

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

Comedian George Carlin once observed that “the word ‘bipartisan’ means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.” This has certainly been the case in Congress recently, especially on education issues (case in point: the Every Student Succeeds Act, in which the Republicans proved they can “govern” by giving the Obama administration basically everything it wanted). Now congressional Republicans led by Speaker Paul Ryan are skipping down the bipartisan path yet again on the issue of Big Data and lifetime citizen surveillance.

Why do Republicans sometimes embrace the very worst schemes of the totalitarian Left? Can they not think through the implications of what they’re endorsing? In this case, the implications are extraordinarily dangerous to the foundational American principles of individual liberty and self-determination.

The vehicle for imposing expanded citizen surveillance is a new federal panel called the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. The Speaker worked with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) on the legislation to create the Commission, which “is charged with reviewing the inventory, infrastructure, and protocols related to data from federal programs and tax expenditures while developing recommendations for increasing the availability and use of this data in support of rigorous program evaluation.”

The appeal of this Commission to “conservatives” is that it will recommend ways to evaluate federal programs and see which ones work and which are a waste of money We need a commission for this? If we just assume all federal programs are a waste, we’ll be right at least 95 percent of the time. And the federal government routinely ignores research, such as the massive evidence that Head Start is useless, that doesn’t support its preferred policies.

But “program evaluation” is the excuse. And the basis of the Commission’s work will be expanded sharing of personal data on American citizens. In a free society, that’s a price too high to pay.

The authorizing statute makes it clear that the Commission must explore new and exciting ways of sharing personal citizen data. The Commission is directed to:

  • “determine the optimal arrangement for which administrative data on Federal programs . . . may be integrated and made available to facilitate program evaluation, continuous improvement, policy-relevant research, and cost-benefit analyses by qualified researchers and institutions . . .”;
  • “make recommendations on how data infrastructure, database security, and statistical protocols should be modified to best fulfill” these objectives;
  • “consider whether a clearinghouse for program and survey data should be established and how to create such a clearinghouse”;
  • determine “which survey data [this] administrative data may be linked to, in addition to linkages across administrative data series . . .”;
  • determine what incentives may facilitate interagency sharing of information to improve programmatic effectiveness . . .”

Although the statute mentions protecting privacy and data-security, its general thrust is to determine how the federal data troves can be shared among various agencies and with researchers.

The composition of the Commission is likewise designed to reach the desired goal of increasing disclosure of personal data. Of the fifteen commissioners (appointed by the President, the Speaker, and the House Minority Leader), only five are to be “expert[s] in protecting personally-identifiable (sic) information and data minimization.” The rest are to be researchers and program-administrators – people whose professional lifeblood is access to data, and who will reliably advocate for fewer restrictions on that access.

One of the Commission’s hot-button issues is whether to allow a federal student unit-record system. A unit-record system would enable the federal government to collect personally identifiable information (PII) on individual higher-education students and link that data to lifelong workforce data. Essentially, it would allow government to track individuals throughout their lives by linking their education to their employment outcomes.

What’s wrong with a unit-record system? For one thing, it would suck all post-secondary students into a massive federal database, without their consent or even their knowledge, merely because they enrolled in college. For another, it would inevitably burst all boundaries to include any data that might conceivably be connected to education – employment, health, military service, financial status, criminality — world without end, amen. And this ever-expanding dossier would be permanent.

But surely the government can be trusted to protect this data. Right. The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has been found shockingly lax in protecting the enormous amount of sensitive PII it already has, primarily through its office of Federal Student Aid. After a hearing uncovered the practically non-existent data-security at USED, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) observed that “almost half the population of the United States of America has their personal information sitting in this database which is not secure.”

But security aside, the compilation of enormous amounts of personal data on American citizens fundamentally changes the relationship between the individual and government. It has an intimidating effect on the individual – even if the data is never used. This is especially true when the collector wields the force of law. A citizen who is afraid of what the government has on him is a citizen who will be loath to challenge that government.

Because such surveillance and tracking is (or should be) anathema in America, Congress wisely prohibited it in the Higher Education Act. But goaded by special-interest vultures well-funded by such rogues as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Congress is – on a bipartisan basis – weakening.

An early sign was introduction of the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, which would allow a unit-record system with the excuse of informing prospective college students about the earnings of particular colleges’ graduates. This surveillance and tracking bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), whose family, you may recall from the campaign, is from Cuba. CUBA, for crying out loud. How can someone from Cuba not realize the dangers of the government’s tracking individuals throughout their lives?

And now we have the bipartisan Commission to produce a glossy report recommending repeal of the unit-record ban in service of research and “consumer information.”

On October 21 the Commission first heard testimony from an array of “stakeholders,” all but one of whom urged opening up citizens’ PII for more research, analysis, and tracking. Yes, they conceded, we must protect privacy, but it’s imperative that greater and more accessible databases be created so that the government can better help citizens run their own lives.

Parent activist Cheri Kiesecker has compiled a valuable compendium of the testimony and agendas of these witnesses. For example, the American Statistical Association bemoaned the bother of having to go before institutional review boards to justify research on unsuspecting citizens. The representative of the Workforce Data Quality Campaign confided that current restrictions sometimes force stakeholders to use “non-standard processes, [to] go through personal relationships or particular capacities within agencies at particular times.” According to this witness, federal bureaucrats are already giving their buddies access to restricted data. And we’re going to increase the personal data these criminal bureaucrats have access to?

Most of the data-mongers made it clear they want much more than just college students’ records linked to workforce data. Particularly blunt about this was the witness from Booz Allen Hamilton (former employer of Edward Snowden), which specializes in predictive intelligence. His company, he said, wants a centralized federal database from every conceivable federal source. “For example,” he said, “eligibility and participation tracked by the Social Security Administration – when combined with taxpayer data and tax subsidies from the IRS, survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and data from other agencies, such as HHS and HUD – could exponentially . . . enhance our potential to draw insights that could not have been derived before.”

No kidding. Compared to this vision, the NSA database is a filing cabinet.

The lonely witness who opposed this well-funded propaganda onslaught was my colleague Emmett McGroarty of American Principles Project.  McGroarty emphasized the intimidating effect that governmental compilation of citizen dossiers has on supposedly free individuals. “Our republic rests on the idea that the citizen will direct government. That cannot happen where government sits in a position of intimidation over the individual.”

The most recent Commission hearing, held on March 13, featured a federal bureaucrat who pushed for a fundamental culture shift in government. She argued that we need a “Yes, unless” expectation of data-sharing among federal agencies – in which all bureaucrats err on the side of data-sharing and “recognize the risks of failing to share data.” And, she advocated, the federal government should help states harmonize all their databases across different organizations, “with capacity to roll up to a national level.” Thus could we achieve data Shangri-La – all states sharing citizens’ personal data with each other and with the feds.

The dangers of such a wellspring of personal data are apparent from a recent Washington Post article about China’s grand plan for data-use. Though no one is (officially) contemplating this type of thing here, the totalitarian leanings of too many in government should give us pause. The report begins:

Imagine a world where an authoritarian government monitors everything you do, amasses huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and awards you a single score that measures how “trustworthy” you are.

In this world, anything from defaulting on a loan to criticizing the ruling party, from running a red light to failing to care for your parents properly, could cause you to lose points.

And in this world, your score becomes the ultimate truth of  who you are – determining whether you can borrow money, get your children into the best schools or travel abroad; whether you get a room in a fancy hotel, a seat in a top restaurant – or even just get a date.

This is the “social credit” system that China plans to implement by 2020. “The ambition is to collect every scrap of information available online about China’s companies and citizens in a single place – and then assign each of them a score based on their political, commercial, social and legal ‘credit.’”

This system would harvest all online interactions and combine them with government data — court, police, banking, tax, education, and employment records. Can we see parallels with the massive federal database advocated by some witnesses at the Commission hearings?

Like our federal officials, the Chinese government offers a plausible reason for its Big Brother plan. With the new system, the government argues, it will be able to detect and punish “companies selling poisoned food or phony medicine, to expose doctors taking bribes and uncover con men preying on the vulnerable.”

And in alignment with the mushrooming number of “public-private partnerships” in the U.S., private companies in China are setting up credit databases that grade citizens on their behavior and dole out favors (such as more efficient car-rental) based on their scores.

One American lawyer working in China warns that if the government can overcome the technological challenges of establishing this system, it would wield extraordinary power to keep people “in line.” Imagine how social-media posts that criticize the government would torpedo a citizen’s score. This lawyer sees the scheme as a technologically turbocharged Cultural Revolution.

Would this happen in America if Congress established a central database? Unlikely – for now. But with so many well-funded “stakeholders” straining at the bit to get access to personal citizen data, for uses limited only by their own imaginations – and with so many of them openly advocating increased surveillance and tracking — it’s virtually certain we’ll head down a road that would make our founders shudder.

Currently, federal data resides in “silos” – education data related to education, IRS data related to income and taxes, Medicaid/Medicare data related to healthcare, etc. – that are in most respects separate from each other.  Contrary to the arguments of the Commission’s witnesses, this isn’t a problem – it’s a good thing. It is a check on the natural tendency of centralized government to overstep boundaries and increase its power. We knock down the walls of these silos at our peril.

“Conservative” politicians ought to understand this instinctively. It’s time for free-born American citizens to remind them.

Betsy DeVos’ Senate Hearing Delayed

DeVos speaking at a post-election rally for President-elect Trump in Michigan.

Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, was supposed to have her confirmation hearing tomorrow before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee tomorrow. It instead has been pushed out until next week, January 17, 2017 at 5:00p (EST).

The reason?

The HELP Committee says they are doing it at the Senate leadership’s request.

HELP Committee ranking member U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and other Democrats had requested the hearing be delayed until after DeVos is cleared by the Office of Government Ethics.

Education Week reports that an aide to HELP Chairman U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that the delay will not change the committee’s plans to vote on her nomination on January 24th.

New U.S. Senate Education Committee Members

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

Just an FYI, there have been some changes on the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee due to the election. These committee members will hold their hearing for Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos on January 11th. I’d encourage you to contact them with questions they can ask of the nominee. I have eleven questions of my own here if you need some ideas.

Bipartisanship Brings Us Horrible Education Policy

President Barack Obama signs S. 1177, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), during a bill a signing ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, Dec. 10, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

President Barack Obama signs S. 1177, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), during a bill a signing ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, Dec. 10, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

President Obama signed the Every Student Success Act into law today.  He lauded the “bipartisanship” behind the bill during his remarks.

And I just want to point out that it’s not as if there weren’t some significant ideological differences on some of these issues. No, there were, but I think this is really a good example of how bipartisanship can work.  People did not agree on everything at the outset, but they were willing to listen to each other in a civil, constructive way, and to work through these issues, compromise where necessary, while still keeping their eye on the ball.  And I think it’s really a testament of the four leaders of the respective committees that they set that kind of tone.  And that’s something that we don’t always see here in Washington.  There wasn’t a lot of grandstanding, not a lot of posturing — just a lot of really good, hard work.  So I just want to, again, thank them for the outstanding work that they did.

President Obama touts bipartisanship.  U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) also plugged bipartisanship and patted each other on the back.  The love fest was nauseating. At the risk of sounding overly partisan, something that I try to avoid here if possible, what exactly did conservatives get out of this?  What is the fruit of this “bipartisanship”?  Jane Robbins writing at The Pulse 2016 today had a money quote today which I believe should have been a red flag for any Republican voting for this bill.

This bill is so progressive that it was supported by every single Democrat in Congress. It was supported by Barack Obama. It was supported by the owners of the Common Core national standards (National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers). It was supported by every other pro-Common Core and pro-progressive education interest group in the country. And it was adamantly and eloquently opposed by over 200 anti-Common Core grassroots organizations.

Yep. Bipartisanship just brought us horrible education policy that has no sunset date.  Gee, thanks.

ESEA Reauthorization Conference Report Advances to Final Vote in the Senate

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

The ESEA reauthorization conference report, S.1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) advanced in the U.S. Senate on a 84 to 12 cloture vote. The vote took place after an hour-and-a-half of “debate.”

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that the final vote is scheduled for tomorrow – Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 10:45a (EST).  He inferred during his comments following the cloture vote that the bill’s passage is pretty much in the bag and then proceeded to pat himself and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) on the back.  It was nauseating.

Yesterday, Politico reported that outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that the House vote last week “gave him hope for democracy.”

It did the exact opposite for me, and today’s vote tarnished my view even further. How can we have a healthy, functional representative democracy when our elected representatives in the U.S House and U.S. Senate vote on a bill that is over 1000 pages a few days after it is made public. The House voted on this two days after the conference report was released. The Senate had one week.

One week is not long enough or somebody would have called Alexander on his B.S. that this bill allows parents to opt-out and that it would get rid of Common Core.  It does neither.  As far as “fixing” No Child Left Behind how can one say that with a straight face. It doesn’t even do that.

Here are the Senators who voted no on cloture. Please take time to thank them as they took a stand against ESEA reauthorization.

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), James Risch (R-ID), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and David Vitter (R-LA).

Apparently U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) were too busy running for President to come back to DC to vote.

National Coalition Opposes No Child Left Behind Rewrite Conference Bill

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

Photo credit: Rob Crawley (CC-By-2.0)

In a coast to coast effort, parent and citizen groups, resisting the national and federal takeover of standards, testing, curriculum, and student data collection via Race to the Top and Common Core standards, are loudly voicing their concerns and opposition to the conference committee report being written for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  This letter strongly urges suspension of work on this bill “until a new administration is elected that, we hope, will follow the rule of law and the Constitution regarding the proper federal role in education.” This request is being made because:

“…for a conference report to be acceptable to this President, given the administration’s dangerous record in so many aspects of the ESEA and related statutes and programs, the report would be completely unacceptable to us and our membership the millions of families, students, and in many cases teachers, such as the majority of those surveyed from Tennessee that oppose implementation of Common Core, of this nation who are affected by these policies.”

It was sent to congressional education leaders responsible for crafting the bill House Education Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Minority Robert Scott (D-VA), Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and is signed by 182 different state and local groups, education activists or local and state officials in 45 states including 15 national organizations and activists in addition to state and local chapters of several other national organizations.

The thoroughly referenced letter lays out fatal flaws with both the House Student Success Act (HR 5) and the Senate Every Child Achieves Act (S 1177) in extensive detail in the following areas, for all of which federal statutory or constitutional authority is extremely questionable or non-existent:

  • Federal Involvement in Standards Development
  • Federally Mandated Testing
  • Federal Curriculum
  • Student Data and Psychological Privacy
  • Preschool
  • Full Service Community Schools & Safe, Healthy & Supportive Schools

“The overwhelming response to this effort to protect the hearts and minds of our children and rein in federal overreach is extremely gratifying,” said Karen R. Effrem, MD, president of Education Liberty Watch, executive director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, and one of the letter’s primary authors.  “The unconstitutional federal overreach in education that is so damaging to our children and our future as a nation needs to end now, and stopping this legislation is a critical first step.”

The letter concludes:

“We know that you are hearing from many well-financed and powerful special-interest groups demanding completion of this bill in this Congress, but please hear the voices of those who are the closest to these precious children.  Our children must not be trained to have arbitrarily determined “college and career ready” skills and be placed on paths chosen for them by government and corporate interests. The American public-education system must provide a well-rounded academic education to allow students to choose their future course and perpetuate the heritage of freedom that has made this nation the freest, most generous, most prosperous nation in the history of the world.”

The entire letter can be read below: