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1998 Ron Paul Chapter 6

National Education Test

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5 February 1998


1998 Ron Paul 6:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of HR 2846, which forbids the use of federal funds to develop or implement a National Test without explicit authorization from Congress. Supporters of protecting the United States Constitution from overreaching by the Executive Branch should support this bill as the Administration’s plan to develop and implement a national education test without Congressional authorization is a blatant violation of the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers.

1998 Ron Paul 6:2
However, support for this bill should in no way be interpreted to imply that Congress has the power to authorize national testing. After all, Congress, like the Executive and the Judicial branches of government, must adhere to the limitations on its power imposed by the United States Constitution. Although many seem to have forgotten this, in our system, the limits set by the Constitution, rather than the will of any particular Congress, determine the legitimate authority of the United States Government.

1998 Ron Paul 6:3
The United States Constitution prohibits the executive branch from developing and implementing a national test, or any program dealing with education. Education is not one of the powers delegated to the Federal Government, and, as the ninth and tenth amendment make clear, the Federal Government can only act in those areas where there is an explicit delegation of power. Therefore, the Federal Government has no legitimate authority to legislate in the area of education. Rather, all matters concerning education, including testing, remain with those best able to educate children — individual states, local communities, and, primarily, parents.

1998 Ron Paul 6:4
Implementation of a national test also must be opposed because of its primary effect: the de facto creation of a national curriculum. Many supporters of a national testing try to minimize this threat to local and parental sovereignty by claiming the program would be voluntary. However, these are many of the same people who consider Goals 2000 a “voluntary” program, despite the numerous times Goals 2000 uses the terms “shall” and “must” in describing state functions. Furthermore, whether or not schools are directly ordered to administer the tests, schools will face pressure to do so as colleagues and employers inevitably begin to use national tests as the standard by which students are measure for college entrance exams and entry-level jobs. At the very least, schools would soon find federal, and perhaps even state, funding conditioned upon their “voluntary” participation in the national testing program.

1998 Ron Paul 6:5
Educators will react to this pressure to ensure students scored highly on the national test by “teaching to the test” — that is, structuring the curriculum so students learn those subjects, and only those subjects covered by the national tests. As University of Kansas Professor John Poggio remarked in February of last year, “What gets tested is what will be taught.” Government bureaucrats would then control the curriculum of every school in the nation, and they would be able to alter curriculums at will by altering the national test!

1998 Ron Paul 6:6
Private schools and home schools will be affected as well, as performance on the national tests becomes the standard by which student performance is judged. Those in private and home schools will face increasing pressure to participate in national testing and shape what is taught to fit the criteria of the tests.

1998 Ron Paul 6:7
National testing is a backdoor means by which the federal government can control the curriculum of every school in the nation. Implementation of national testing would be a fatal blow to constitutional government and parental control of education.

1998 Ron Paul 6:8
The Executive Branch has no constitutional authority to implement and develop a national test and the Congress has no authority to authorize the test. I therefore urge my colleagues to vote for H.R. 2846, which stops the Administration from ultimately implementing national tests and oppose all legislation authorizing the creation of a national test. Instead, this Congress should work to restore control over their children’s education to the American people by shutting down the federal education bureaucracy and cutting taxes on America’s parents so they may provide for the education of their own children.
Notes:

In Chapter 6, (unspoken) Ron Paul continues a discussion begun in 1998 Ron Paul Chapter 5, a few pages earlier in the Congressional Record.

1998 Ron Paul 6:4 colleagues and employers possibly should read, colleges and employers. Measure probably should read, measured.

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