Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

July 20, 1997

Parents must have control of education

By US Representative Ron Paul

An American statesman once said that the philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next. And thanks to the federal take-over of education, that's a thought which should scare us all.

After all, the federal government has so invaded our classrooms, that daily our children are constantly bombarded with the message that everything good flows from the federal government, and that no one but the federal government has the ability to put right problems in our culture and world. On any given day, the federal government has more influence on the education of the average child than that child's parents.

An important note should be made that the fault for the lowering standards and worsening conditions in our public schools does not rest with our teachers. In fact the contrary, I am convinced our educational system would be even further in the hole were it not for the valiant efforts of our school teachers bucking the ridiculous trends and still trying to teach their students. But there is only so much they can do as the pressures mount from Washington for schools to conform to the models developed by federal bureaucrats and university professors who have never taught in a classroom.

The scary thing is that this will only get worse as the federal government creates more funding schemes to convince cash-strapped local school districts to give in and implement the latest plans of the Washington-based education bureaucrats, the so-called "educrats."

As long as we accept the notion that the federal government has some sort of "right" to control education, we will never see this trend reversed. But the good news is, more and more people are awakening to the horrible things which have occurred since the federal government began taking over our schools. Recently, more than 54 percent of the people of the 14th District of Texas, responding to a survey my office conducted, said they wanted to see the federal Department of Education completely abolished. The people of the 14th District - and people from around the nation - are sick of programs like the president's "Goals 2000," which are more about social and political correctness than education; they are tired of seeing classrooms turned into vehicle for social engineering, instead of as a place for reading and math.

There is absolutely no authority over education given to the federal government by the Constitution, none whatsoever. Everything we see the federal government doing in education is outside the bounds set by the Constitution; not, of course, that many people any longer feel bound by the restrictions set forth in the highest law of the land.

So the real challenge for us is determining how to rescue our school kids from the clutches of the federal education bureaucrats.

Even though many people across the nation are tired of what they see the federal government doing in education, there are too many entrenched congressmen, senators and federal employees who are unwilling to eliminate this unconstitutional waste of tax dollars. Therefore it is unlikely we see the Department of Education abolished, as it needs to be, any time soon, nor will we see the myriad of education-related federal rules and regulations discarded.

I am confident that day will come, for history has shown us that big, centralized government systems always collapse. But until that days arrives we cannot sacrifice our children. In order to ensure our children and grandchildren are receiving the education they need, parents must be able to consider options for their kids other than, or in addition to, the government schools. But realistically, tutoring sessions, home schooling and private schools are options far out of reach for many people, simply because of the cost.

As such I am proud to be sponsoring legislation which will give parents an unprecedented amount of control (in recent history) over their child's education. The legislation is called the Family Education Freedom Act, HR 1816.

This bill will provide up to $3,000 in tax credits per child, per year, for every American family. Parents will be eligible for the tax credit whether their kids are in public schools, private schools, church schools, or are home schooled. The tax credit can apply toward items such as after-school tutoring, purchasing a computer and educational software, tuition and the cost of books and materials, and almost anything else which the parents believe will enhance their child's education.

I am absolutely convinced that the key to an educationally prosperous nation is found not in a federal government program, but in the right of parents - consulting with teachers and local administrators - to effectively utilize their moral responsibility for their children. By so doing, we will foster a philosophy of independence, self-reliance, and local responsibility; a philosophy which will permeate our classrooms and our government.

And that is a philosophy of which we are in desperate need not just for the next generation, but also today.