National School Choice week takes place from January 26 to February 1, and during this week education freedom activists around the country will be participating in events highlighting the need for parental control of education. I wholeheartedly endorse National School Choice Week, as parental control of education is a prerequisite for a free and prosperous society.
When government usurps control of education from parents, education can easily become indoctrination. Centralized, top-down models of education are also doomed to failure as there is no way a bureaucrat in DC can design an education system capable of meeting the needs of every child in the country. The failure of centralized education is shown by the correlation between American students’ declining tests scores and the growth of federal control over American schools. Education reforms that further, or expand, the Department of Education will prove fruitless. The only effective education reform is to restore parental control over education.
The key to restoring parental control is to give parents back control over the education dollar. This means shutting down the Department of Education and returning the money currently spent promoting schemes like “common core”. Ideally, this would be accomplished by eliminating all federal taxes on American families. However, if the political support for outright abolition of federal taxes is not available, education tax credits can also serve as an effective way of getting control over education back into the hands of the people. Unlike taxpayer-funded vouchers, private tax credits do not open the door to government control of education. This is because tax credits allow parents to use their own money on their children’s education, rather than relying on funds provided by the federal government. Since “he who pays the piper calls the tune,” federal funding of education—whether in the form of federal grants or taxpayer-funded vouchers—inevitably means schools will spend more time trying to please federal bureaucrats than parents.
One educational model that I am particularly interested in is homeschooling. Many of the most devoted and most effective advocates of liberty I have worked with come from homeschooling families. This might be because many homeschooling families have personal experience with government harassment, ranging from having to comply with government regulations to being threatened with the loss of their children for the “crime” of homeschooling. It is ironic that government would attempt to force homeschoolers to conform to its regulations considering that homeschoolers constantly out-perform their public school-educated peers.
In order to encourage the growth of homeschooling I have developed my own homeschool curriculum. The Ron Paul Curriculum consists of a rigorous program of study in history, economics, mathematics, and the physical and natural sciences.
Older students will also have the opportunity to get practical experience creating and running their own on-line businesses. Frequent written assignments will ensure students have the maximum opportunity to develop strong communication skills.
Giving my strong belief in liberty, the history and economics curriculum will provide a good grounding in liberty, including the principles of Austrian Economics. However, the drafters of the curriculum took great care to never sacrifice intellectual rigor and accuracy.
Education is one of those things that is simply too important to be left to the government. The best way to ensure quality education is to ensure that parents have the ability to pick the education option that best fits their child’s unique needs and abilities. Everyone who wishes to see America remain a free and prosperous society has an interest in parental control of education.
Ron Paul is a former U.S. Congressman from Texas and the leader of the pro-liberty, pro-free market movement in the United States. His weekly column – reprinted with permission – can be found here.