Ron Paul: We need a free market in education

In addition to shredding civil liberties, launching a utopian global war for democracy, and going on a spending spree that would make LBJ blush, the so-called “conservative” Bush administration dramatically increased federal control over education via the “No Child Left Behind” act. During my time in Congress I heard nothing but complaints about this law from teachers, administrators, and, most importantly, students and parents. Most of the complaints concerned No Child Left Behind’s testing requirements, which encouraged educators to “teach to the test.”

Sadly, but not surprisingly, instead of improving education by repealing No Child Left Behind’s testing and other mandates, the Obama administration is increasing national control over schools via the “Common Core” initiative. Common Core is a new curriculum developed by a panel of so-called education experts. The administration is trying to turn Common Core into a national curriculum by offering states increased federal education funding if they impose Common Core’s curriculum on their public schools. This is yet another example of the government using money stolen from the people to bribe states into obeying federal dictates.

Critics of Common Core say it “dumbs down” education by replacing traditional English literature with “informational texts”. So students will read such inspiring materials as studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the EPA’s “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” and “Invasive Plant Inventory” by California’s Invasive Plant Council. It is doubtful that reading federal reports will teach students the habits of critical thinking and skepticism of government that the Founders considered essential to maintaining a free republic.

Like Obamacare, Common Core (now dubbed “ObamaCore” by some) has sparked a backlash in the states, leading some to propose legislation forbidding state participation in the scheme. I hope these efforts lead to states not just opting out of Common Core, but out of No Child Left Behind and all other federal education programs as well.

Parents can also effectively “opt out” of programs like Common Core by seeking alternatives to government education. It is no coincidence that, as federal control over education increases, the quality of public education has declined and more parents have chosen to homeschool.

To support these parents, I have established my own homeschool curriculum. Unlike Common Core, we do not dumb down any of our offerings. Instead, the goal is to provide students with a rigorous education in history, math, English, foreign languages, and other core subjects necessary to a well-rounded education. Unlike the top-down model of nationalized education, the homeschool curriculum is deigned to encourage maximum input from parents and students. While the curriculum will reflect my belief, and interest, in Austrian economics, libertarian political theory, and the history of the struggle against state power, the curriculum is being carefully designed to not show bias toward any one religion. I hope all parents of any faith—or no religious beliefs at all—will feel comfortable using the curriculum.

I believe it is important for those of us concerned with education and liberty to fight our battles locally. We must oppose further encroachment on the autonomy of local public schools and work to roll-back existing interference, while encouraging and supporting the growth of homeschooling and other alternative education movements. The key to restoring quality education is to replace the bureaucratic control of education with a free market in education. Parents should have the freedom to select the type of education that best suits their child’s unique needs.

Ron Paul to start small government think tank

Ron Paul has kept quite busy since his retirement from Congress.  Recently, I reported on a new home schooling curriculum spearheaded by Dr. Paul that promises to better prepare students for college and the real world.  Now, the Libertarian-minded ex-Congressman will announce plans this week to start a new think tank that he promises will promote small government ideals and a reduced role of federal government in the lives of the American people.

Called the “Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity”, it will “serve as the focal point of a new coalition that crosses political, ideological, and party lines”, according to Paul’s Facebook page.  The think tank will focus on two main issues, education and the coming generation – our nation’s future leaders.  “The neo-conservative era is dead,” Paul wrote, citing the chaos and turmoil at the hands of irresponsible politics and unaccountable leaders.

During his announcement on Wednesday, Paul will be joined by a couple of big-named Libertarian-minded individuals like Judge Andrew Napolitano and Lew Rockwell of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

What will happen to a post-Ron Paul Republican Party?

After 23 years in Congress, Dr. Ron Paul will retire as a state Representative from Texas, sell his condo in Washington D.C., and return to the Lone Star state to live out his remaining days without the spotlight of the political process.  Unfortunately for the GOP, he might be the Republican’s last remaining voice of true small government and individual liberties.

Ron Paul ran unsuccessfully for president in 1988 as a Libertarian, and again in 2008 and 2012 as a Republican.  Arguably, Paul’s realistic hopes of becoming president as a Republican were overshadowed by the need to get his message across to the American people at the national level with television cameras rolling and radio microphones on.

Indeed, the retired OB/GYN was widely known as one of the last remaining members of the Republican party who believed in consistent small government policy across the board.  Routinely, Paul would fight spending, fight government intrusion into the social lives of the American people and question the United States’ involvement (read: meddling) in matters overseas.  Paul believes that U.S. foreign policy perpetuates aggression towards U.S. interests abroad, and argues that our reliance on the Federal Reserve is destroying the value of the American dollar.

Readers of our nation’s founding fathers will quickly recognize their spirit and dedication in Paul’s voice.  A small federal government that relies on state governments to make decisions that favor local citizens is a concept that enveloped Paul’s ideas, writings and speeches.  Sadly, this spirit is now in the minority as government dependence increases among the American people, and deficits rise, wars continue, and peace dwindles.

The Republicans are left with a stark future.  While it is true that no single man shapes an entire political party, the Republican’s lone voice of a significant downsizing of Washinton D.C. is retiring.  The Republicans are left with the burden of creating an image, or at least an illusion, of a party that remains in support of a smaller government – somehow.  With John “Obamacare is the law of the land” Boehner at the helm in the House, the task is nothing less than daunting.  The only constant within the Republican party is its failure to enact significant reform of any kind.  Wars, wasteful stimulus and deficits litter the political resumes of virtually everyone in Congress.

In truth, the Republican party leadership is probably relieved to have “trouble-maker” Ron Paul out of the spotlight.  After all, who needs a member of their own party calling out party leadership?  Who wants to be exposed for what they truly are?  Hiding behind the cloak of a perceived belief in small government is far more comfortable.  Ignoring a cranky old man who supports the removal of power from Washington bureaucrats gets tiring.

But this relief will soon turn to shock as the defunct party is forced to find its way in the political discourse, furiously searching for ways to separate itself from the Democrats.  When the leader of the Republican party goes limp-wristed on one of the most expensive and manipulative regulations of the American people (Obamacare), it is a tough road to travel – with or without Ron Paul.

Without Paul, it just got tougher.  Without Paul, their voice of small government and freedom is gone.  No other member of the GOP seems willing to pick up where Paul will leave off.  No other member seems willing to question government involvement in unnecessary and endless wars, reckless spending, regulation of marriage and the War on Drugs.  The party’s small government side is barren.  Within the party, Paul was sitting in an auditorium alone.  Now, that same auditorium rests dark and silent.

Will the Republican party find a way to give the American people a legitimate choice in the future, or will they continue to follow in line with Democrats and fall on what’s left of their swords as they maintain their commitment to destroy any semblance of small government in Washington D.C.?