19 April 2011

Ron Paul
1999 Ron Paul Chapter 81

Teacher Empowerment Act

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20 July 1999

1999 Ron Paul 81:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, I rise reluctantly to express my opposition to the Teacher Empowerment Act (H.R. 1995). Although H.R. 1995 does provide more flexibility to states than the current system or the Administration’s proposal, it comes at the expense of increasing federal spending on education. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that if Congress appropriates the full amount authorized in the bill, additional outlays would be $83 million in Fiscal Year 2000 and $6.9 billion over five years.

1999 Ron Paul 81:2
H.R. 1995 is not entirely without merit. The most important feature of the bill is the provision forbidding the use of federal funds for mandatory national teacher testing or teacher certification. National teacher testing or national teacher certification will inevitably lead to a national curriculum. National teacher certification will allow the federal government to determine what would-be teachers need to know in order to practice their chosen profession. Teacher education will revolve around preparing teachers to pass the national test or to receive a national certificate. New teachers will then base their lesson plans on what they needed to know in order to receive their Education Department-approved teaching certificate. Therefore, all those who oppose a national curriculum should oppose national teacher testing. I commend Chairman GOODLING and Chairman MCKEON for their continued commitment to fighting a national curriculum.

1999 Ron Paul 81:3
Furthermore, this bill provides increased ability for state and local governments to determine how best to use federal funds. However, no one should confuse this with true federalism or even a repudiation of the modern view of state and local governments as administrative agencies of the Federal Government. After all, the very existence of a federal program designed to “help” states train teachers limits a state’s ability to set education priorities since every dollar taken in federal taxes to fund federal teacher training programs is a dollar a state cannot use to purchase new textbooks or computers for students. This bill also dictates how much money the states may keep versus how much must be sent to the local level and limits the state government’s use of the funds to activities approved by Congress.

1999 Ron Paul 81:4
In order to receive any funds under this act, states must further entrench the federal bureaucracy by applying to the Department of Education and describing how local school districts will use the funds in accordance with federal mandates. They must grovel for funds while describing how they will measure student achievement and teacher quality; how they will coordinate professional development activities with other programs; and how they will encourage the development of “proven, innovative strategies” to improve professional development — I wonder how much funding a state would receive if their “innovative strategy” did not meet the approval of the Education Department! I have no doubt that state governments, local school districts, and individual citizens could design a less burdensome procedure to support teacher quality initiatives if the federal government would only abide by its constitutional limits.

1999 Ron Paul 81:5
Use of the funds by local school districts is also limited by the federal government. For example, local schools districts must use a portion of each grant to reduce class size, unless it can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the state that it needs the money to fund other priorities. This provision illustrates how this bill offends not just constitutional procedure but also sound education practice. After all, the needs of a given school system are best determined by the parents, administrators, community leaders, and, yes, teachers, closest to the students — not by state or federal bureaucrats. Yet this bill continues to allow distant bureaucrats to oversee the decisions of local education officials.

1999 Ron Paul 81:6
Furthermore, this bill requires localities to use a certain percentage of their funds to meet the professional development needs of math and science teachers. As an OB–GYN, I certainly understand the need for quality math and science teachers, however, for Congress to require local education agencies to devote a disproportionate share of resources to one particular group of teachers is a form of central planning — directing resources into those areas valued by the central planners, regardless of the diverse needs of the people. Not every school district in the country has the same demand for math and science teachers. There may be some local school districts that want to devote more resources to English teachers or foreign language instructors. Some local schools districts may even want to devote their resources to provide quality history and civics teachers so they will not produce another generation of constitutionally-illiterate politicians!

1999 Ron Paul 81:7
In order to receive funding under this bill, states must provide certain guarantees that the state’s use of the money will result in improvement in the quality of the state’s education system. Requiring such guarantees assumes that the proper role for the Federal Government is to act as overseer of the states and localities to ensure they provide children with a quality education. There are several flaws in this assumption. First of all, the 10th amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the Federal Government from exercising any control over education. Thus, the Federal Government has no legitimate authority to take money from the American people and use that money in order to bribe states to adopt certain programs that Congress and the federal bureaucracy believes will improve education. The prohibition in the 10th amendment is absolute; it makes no exception for federal education programs that “allow the states flexibility!”

1999 Ron Paul 81:8
In addition to violating the Constitution, making states accountable in any way to the federal government for school performance is counter-productive. The quality of American education has declined as Federal control has increased, and for a very good reason. As mentioned above, decentralized education systems are much more effective then centralized education systems. Therefore, the best way to ensure a quality education system is through dismantling the Washington-DC-based bureaucracy and making schools more accountable to parents and students.

1999 Ron Paul 81:9
In order to put the American people back in charge of education, I have introduced the Family Education Freedom Act (H.R. 935) which provides parents with a $3,000 tax credit for K–12 education expenses and the Education Improvement Tax Cut Act (H.R. 936), which provides all citizens with a $3,000 tax credit for contributions to K–12 scholarships and for cash or in-kind donations to schools. I have also introduced the Teacher Tax Cut Act, which encourages good people to enter and remain in the teaching profession by providing teachers with a $1,000 tax credit. By returning control of the education dollar to parents and concerned citizens, my education package does more to improve education quality than any other proposal in Congress.

1999 Ron Paul 81:10
Mr. Chairman, the Teacher Empowerment Act not only continues the federal control of education in violation of the Constitution and sound education principles, but it does so at increased spending levels. I, therefore, urge my colleagues to reject the approach of this bill and instead join me in working to eliminate the federal education bureaucracy, cut taxes, and thus return control over education to America’s parents, teachers, and students.

1999 Ron Paul 81:6 As an OB–GYN, I certainly understand the need for quality math and science teachers, however, probably should have a smi-colon instead of a comma: As an OB–GYN, I certainly understand the need for quality math and science teachers; however, or even start a new sentence: As an OB–GYN, I certainly understand the need for quality math and science teachers. However,.

1999 Ron Paul 81:6 constitutionally-illiterate probably should be unhyphenated: constitutionally illiterate.

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