The Book of Ron Paul
1998 Ron Paul Chapter 121

Education Debate

16 October 1998

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Friday, October 16, 1998

1998 Ron Paul 121:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to express my thoughts on the education debate that has consumed much of this Congress in recent days. For all the sound and fury generated by the argument over education, the truth is that the difference between the congressional leadership and the administration are not that significant; both wish to strengthen the unconstitutional system of centralized education. I trust I need not go into the flaws with President Clinton’s command-and-control approach to education. However, this Congress has failed to present a true, constitutional alternative to President Clinton’s proposals to further nationalize education.

1998 Ron Paul 121:2
It is becoming increasingly clear that the experiment in centralized control of education has failed. Even data from the National Assessment of Education Progress [NAEP] shows that students in States where control over education is decentralized score approximately 10 percentage points higher on NAEP’s tests in math and reading than students from States with highly-centralized education systems. Clearly, the drafters of the Constitution knew what they were doing when they forbade the Federal Government from meddling in education.

1998 Ron Paul 121:3
American children deserve nothing less than the best educational opportunities, not warmed-over versions of the disastrous educational policies of the past. That is why I introduced H.R. 1816, the Family Education Freedom Act. This bill would give parents an inflation-adjusted $3,000 per annum tax credit, per child for educational expenses. The credit applies to those in public, private, parochial, or home schooling.

1998 Ron Paul 121:4
This bill is the largest tax credit for education in the history of our great Republic and it returns the fundamental principal of a truly free economy to America’s education system: what the great economist Ludwig von Mises called “consumer sovereignty.” Consumer sovereignty simply means consumers decide who succeeds or fails in the market. Businesses that best satisfy consumer demand will be the most successful. Consumer sovereignty is the means by which the free market maximizes human happiness.

1998 Ron Paul 121:5
Currently, consumers are less than sovereign in the education “market.” Funding decisions are increasingly controlled by the Federal Government. Because “he who pays the piper calls the tune,” public, and even private schools, are paying greater attention to the dictates of Federal “educrats” while ignoring the wishes of the parents to an ever-greater degree. As such, the lack of consumer sovereignty in education is destroying parental control of education and replacing it with State control. Restoring parental control is the key to improving education.

1998 Ron Paul 121:6
Of course I applaud all efforts which move in this direction. the Gingrich/Coverdell education tax cut, The Granger/Dunn bill, and, yes, President Clinton’s college tax credits are good first steps in the direction I advocate. However, Congress must act boldly, we can ill afford to waste another year without a revolutionary change in our policy. I believe my bill sparks this revolution and I am disappointed that the leadership of this Congress chose to ignore this fundamental reform and instead focused on reauthorizing great society programs, creating new Federal education programs (such as those contained in the Reading Excellence Act and the four new Federal programs created by the Higher Education Act), and promoting the pseudo-federalism of block grants.

1998 Ron Paul 121:7
One area where this Congress was successful in fighting for a constitutional education policy was in resisting President Clinton’s drive for national testing. I do wish to express my support for the provisions banning the development of national testing and thank Mr. GOODLING for his leadership in this struggle.

1998 Ron Paul 121:8
However, I wish this provision did no come at the price of $1.1 billion in new Federal spending. In addition, I note that this Congress is taking several steps toward creating a national curriculum, particularly through the Reading Excellence Act, which dictates teaching methodologies to every classroom in the Nation and creates a Federal definition of reading, thus making compliance with Federal standards the goal of education.

1998 Ron Paul 121:9
So, even when Congress resists one proposal to further nationalize education, it supports another form of nationalization. Some Members will claim they are resisting nationalization and even standing up for the 10th amendment by fighting to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on block grants. These Members say that the expenditure levels do not matter, it is the way the money that is spent which is important. Contrary to the view of these well-meaning but misguided members, the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on Federal education programs do matter.

1998 Ron Paul 121:10
First of all, the Federal Government lacks constitutional authority to redistribute monies between States and taxpayers for the purpose of education, regardless of whether the monies are redistributed through Federal programs or through grants. There is no “block grant exception” to the principles of federalism embodied in the U.S. Constitution.

1998 Ron Paul 121:11
Furthermore, the Federal Government’s power to treat State governments as their administrative subordinates stems from an abuse of Congress’ taxing-and-spending power. Submitting to Federal control is the only way State and local officials can recapture any part of the monies of the Federal Government has illegitimately taken from a State’s citizens. Of course, this is also the only way State officials can tax citizens of other States to support their education programs. It is the rare official who can afford not to bow to Federal dictates in exchange for Federal funding!

1998 Ron Paul 121:12
As long as the Federal Government controls education dollars, States and local schools will obey Federal mandates; the core problem is not that Federal monies are given with the inevitable strings attached, the real problem is the existence of Federal taxation and funding.

1998 Ron Paul 121:13
Since Federal spending is the root of Federal control, by increasing Federal spending this Congress is laying the groundwork for future Congresses to fasten more and more mandates on the States. Because State and even local officials, not Federal bureaucrats, will be carrying out these mandates, this system could complete the transformation of the State governments into mere agents of the Federal Government.

1998 Ron Paul 121:14
Congress has used block grants to avoid addressing philosophical and constitutional questions of the role of the Federal and State governments by means of adjustments in management in the name of devolution. Devolution is said to return to State’s rights by decentralizing the management of Federal programs. This is a new 1990’s definition of the original concept of federalism and is a poor substitute for the original, constitutional definition of federalism.

1998 Ron Paul 121:15
While it is true that lower levels of intervention are not as bad as micro-management at the Federal level, Congress’ constitutional and moral responsibility is not to make the Federal education bureaucracy “less bad.” Rather, we must act now to put parents back in charge of education and thus make American education once again the envy of the world.

1998 Ron Paul 121:16
Hopefully the next Congress will be more reverent toward their duty to the U.S. Constitution and America’s children. The price of Congress’ failure to return to the Constitution in the area of education will be paid by the next generation of American children. In short, we cannot afford to continue on the policy road we have been going down. The cost of inaction to our future generations is simply too great.


1998 Ron Paul Chapter 121
The text of this chapter was inserted in the section of Congressional Record entitled “Extensions of remarks” and was not spoken on the House floor.

1998 Ron Paul 121:1
between the congressional leadership and the administration probably should be capitalized: between the Congressional leadership and the Administration.

1998 Ron Paul 121:2
highly-centralized probably should be unhyphenated: highly centralized.

1998 Ron Paul 121:7
and thank Mr. GOODLING for his leadership Here, Ron Paul thanks The Honorable William F. Goodling of Pennsylvania.

1998 Ron Paul 121:8
10th amendment probably should have been capitalized: 10th Amendment.

1998 Ron Paul 121:8
the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on Federal education programs do matter. probably should have been the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on Federal education programs does matter. since it is the amount and not the dollars that matters.

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