The Book of Ron Paul
1997 Ron Paul Chapter 100

Reading Excellence Act

8 November 1997

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Congressional Record (Page H10396)   Cached

Mr. GOODLING. I yield 2 minutes to another important member of our committee, the gentleman from Texas, Congressman PAUL.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 2 minutes, Mr. GOODLING, for 2 minutes.

1997 Ron Paul 100:1
Mr. PAUL. I thank the Chairman for yielding. I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

1997 Ron Paul 100:2
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Without objection.

1997 Ron Paul 100:3
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to express my opposition to the Reading Excellence Act, which creates yet another unconstitutional, ineffective, $260 million new Federal education program.

1997 Ron Paul 100:4
I do not challenge the motivation of those who today bring this bill to the floor. The supporters of this bill claim that by passing the Reading Excellence Act, the Federal Government will, quote, enable every child to learn to read, end of quote.

1997 Ron Paul 100:5
Now, this is certainly a noble goal, but before Congress creates yet another Federal program, perhaps we should consider that over the past 60 years Congress has created a plethora of social programs, each one promising to bring to an end all the social ills. These programs have not only failed to create the promised utopia, but in many cases worsened the very problems they were created to solve.

1997 Ron Paul 100:6
Nowhere is the Federal Government’s failure to improve the lives of the American people through the welfare state more dramatically illustrated than in education. In 1963, when Federal spending on education was less than $900,000, the average Scholastic Achievement Test score was approximately 980. Thirty years later, when Federal education spending ballooned to $19 billion, the average score fell to 902.

1997 Ron Paul 100:7
Furthermore, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress Survey, only 37 percent of America’s 12th graders were actually able to read at a 12th grade level. Despite this history of failed Federal programs, Congress is once again planning to solve a social problem it helped create through an increase in Federal power.

1997 Ron Paul 100:8
Mr. Speaker, it’s ironic that the reason we are considering this bill is because the budget agreement, which was supposed to end the era of big government, calls for the creation of a Federal literacy program. Obviously, the budget does not end big government, but preserves and expands unconstitutional Nanny State interference in areas where the Federal Government has neither legitimacy nor competence.

1997 Ron Paul 100:9
Rather than returning money and authority to the States and the people, commensurate with the 10th amendment, this bill creates another complex bureaucratic process, laden with rules, regulations, and State mandates. Under this bill. States receiving a literacy grant must establish a reading and literacy partnership, the markup of which is dictated by the Federal Government. The partnership must then apply for a grant to the Secretary of Education, explaining how they would comply with all of the bill’s mandates. The grants are then approved by a Peer Review Panel, a group of experts chosen by the National Institute for Literacy and other federally funded organizations. States receiving grants under this program would then have to distribute those grants to Local Education Agencies [LEA’s] who submit a plan to the States’ reading and literacy partnership. Among the information that States would be required to submit is a description of how subgrants made by the partnership would achieve the goals of the act, a description of how the partnership would evaluate subgrantees, and a description of how states will guarantee that a portion of the funds will be used to provide tutorial assistance grants.

1997 Ron Paul 100:10
Those receiving Federal literacy funds may only use them for federally defined purposes. Thus, this legislation creates another bureaucratized program rooted in pseudo-federalism, whereby States have the right to spend money on federally defined goals and within the limitations set by Congress—provided, of course, they jump through all the congressionally constructed Federal hoops.

1997 Ron Paul 100:11
Recipients of Federal literacy funds must base their programs on reliable, replicable research, defined as research meeting scientific standards of peer-review. While none question the value of research into various educational methodologies it is doubtful that the best way to teach reading can be totally determined through laboratory experiments. Learning to read is a complex process, involving many variable, not the least of which are the skills and abilities of the individual child. Many effective techniques may not be readily supported by reliable, replicable research. Therefore, this program may end up preventing the use of many effective means of reading instruction. The requirement that recipients of Federal funds use only those reading techniques based on reliable, replicable research, which in practice means those methods approved by the federally funded experts on the Peer Review Panel, ensures that a limited number of reading methodologies will, in essence, be stamped with Federal approval.

1997 Ron Paul 100:12
Furthermore, this bill mandates that schools participating in the Federal literacy programs must make available to parents assurance of teacher qualifications. It is probably a good idea that local schools make this information available to parents, but it not the role of the Federal Government to dictate local schools implement everything we in Congress think is a good idea. In addition, this provision seems to have been motivated by a desire to start Congress down the road to establishing a national system to certify teachers.

1997 Ron Paul 100:13
Due to the unfortunate influence of the Federal Government, the teaching methodologies funded under this program will become the methodologies used in every classroom in the Nation. Thus, this bill represents another step toward imposing a national curriculum. Supporters of this bill will respond that the Federal Government is merely encouraging the use of sound instructional techniques. Setting aside the question of whether or not techniques based on reliable, replicable research can really lead one to discover the best means of educating children, the Constitution prohibits the Federal Government from any interference in the methodologies by which children are educated. This constitutional prohibition on Federal interference in education contains no exception for techniques based on reliable, replicable, research.

1997 Ron Paul 100:14
Mr. Speaker, another indication that this bill will move America toward a national curriculum is that the bill creates a Federal definition of reading, thus making compliance with Federal standards the goal of education.

1997 Ron Paul 100:15
Furthermore, the Reading Excellence Act requires each grantee to evaluate the success of their programs. Of course, the most effective way to evaluate the success of the various literacy projects reviewing Federal funds is to administer a uniform test to the students participating in those programs. Thus, despite the overwhelming congressional rejection of national testing just last month, Congress is now considering authorizing the creation of a de facto national reading exam.

1997 Ron Paul 100:16
Another reason to oppose this bill is that it increases Federal support for a so-called family literacy services. One of the hallmark of totalitarianism is State-control of child rearing. Despite the language that participation in these programs is voluntary, these programs enable government-funded social workers to subtly coerce parents to cede control of their child to the State.

1997 Ron Paul 100:17
Mr. Speaker, the Reading Excellence Act represents another unconstitutional intrusion on the rights of States, local communities, and parents to educate children free from Federal interference. It also takes several large steps down the dangerous road toward a national curriculum. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to reject this bill, and instead support measures such as educational tax credit that will empower parents to provide effective literacy instruction for their children.


1997 Ron Paul 100:7
10th amendment probably should be capitalized: 10th Amendment.

1997 Ron Paul 100:9
Ron Paul runs out of time and stops speaking after saying to the States. The rest of the speech is in Congressional Record in the font that denotes that Ron Paul spoke it on the House floor, but he did not. See the C-Span video at 16:32:31 local time.

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