Ron Paul
1999 Ron Paul Chapter 109

Academic Achievement for All Students Freedom and Accountability Act (STRAIGHT “A’s”)

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21 October 1999

1999 Ron Paul 109:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, those who wish to diminish federal control over education should cast an unenthusiastic yes vote for the Academic Achievement for All Students Freedom and Accountability Act (STRAIGHT “A’s”). While this bill does increase the ability of state and local governments to educate children free from federal mandates and regulations, and is thus a marginal improvement over existing federal law, STRAIGHT “A’s” fails to challenge the federal government’s unconstitutional control of education. In fact, under STRAIGHT “A’s” states and local school districts will still be treated as administrative subdivisions of the federal education bureaucracy. Furthermore, this bill does not remove the myriad requirements imposed on states and local school districts by federal bureaucrats in the name of promoting “civil rights.” Thus, a school district participating in STRAIGHT “A’s” will still have to place children in failed bilingual education programs or face the wrath of the Department of Education’s misnamed Office of Civil Rights.

1999 Ron Paul 109:2
The fact that this bill increases, however marginally, the ability of states and localities to control education, is a step forward. As long as the federal government continues to levy oppressive taxes on the American people, and then funnel that money back to the states to use for education programs, defenders of the Constitution should support all efforts to reduce the hoops through which states must jump in order to reclaim some of the people’s tax monies.

1999 Ron Paul 109:3
However, there are a number of both practical and philosophical concerns regarding this bill. While the additional flexibility granted under this bill will be welcomed by the ten states allowed by the federal overseers to participate in the program, there is no justification to deny this flexibility to the remaining forty states. After all, federal education money represents the return of funds illegitimately taken from the American taxpayers to their states and communities. It is the pinnacle of arrogance for Congress to pick and choose which states are worthy of relief from federal strings in how they use what is, after all, the people’s money.

1999 Ron Paul 109:4
The primary objection to STRAIGHT “A’s” from a constitutional viewpoint, is embedded in the very mantra of “accountability” stressed by the drafters of the bill. Talk of accountability begs the question: accountable to whom? Under this bill, schools remain accountable to federal bureaucrats and those who develop the state tests upon which a participating school’s performance is judged. Should the schools not live up to their bureaucratically-determined “performance goals,” they will lose the flexibility granted to them under this act. So federal and state bureaucrats will determine if the schools are to be allowed to participate in the STRAIGHT “A’s” programs and bureaucrats will judge whether the states are living up to the standards set in the state’s five-year education plan — yet this is supposed to debureaucratize and decentralize education!

1999 Ron Paul 109:5
Under the United States Constitution, the federal government has no authority to hold states “accountable” for their education performance. In the free society envisioned by the founders, schools are held accountable to parents, not federal bureaucrats. However, the current system of leveling oppressive taxes on America’s families and using those taxes to fund federal education programs denies parental control of education by denying them control over the education dollar. Because “he who pays the piper calls the tune,” when the federal government controls the education dollar schools will obey the dictates of federal “educrats” while ignoring the wishes of the parents.

1999 Ron Paul 109:6
In order to provide parents with the means to hold schools accountable, I have introduced the Family Education Freedom Act (H.R. 935). The Family Education Freedom Act restores parental control over the classroom by providing American parents a tax credit of up to $3,000 for the expenses incurred in sending their child to private, public, parochial, other religious school, or for home schooling their children.

1999 Ron Paul 109:7
The Family Education Freedom Act 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 society maximizes human happiness.

1999 Ron Paul 109:8
When parents control the education dollar, schools must be responsive to parental demands that their children receive first-class educations, otherwise, parents will find alternative means to educate their children. Furthermore, parents whose children are in public schools may use their credit to improve their schools by helping to finance the purchase of educational tools such as computers or extracurricular activities such as music programs. Parents of public school students may also wish to use the credit to pay for special services for their children.

1999 Ron Paul 109:9
It is the Family Education Freedom Act, not STRAIGHT “A’s”, which represents the education policy best suited for a constitutional republic and a free society. The Family Education Freedom Act ensures that schools are accountable to parents, whereas STRAIGHT “A’s” continues to hold schools accountable to bureaucrats.

1999 Ron Paul 109:10
Since the STRAIGHT “A’s” bill does give states an opportunity to break free of some federal mandates, supporters of returning the federal government to its constitutional limits should support it. However, they should keep in mind that this bill represents a minuscule step forward as it fails to directly challenge the federal government’s usurpation of control over education. Instead, this bill merely gives states greater flexibility to fulfill federally-defined goals. Therefore, Congress should continue to work to restore constitutional government and parental control of education by defunding all unconstitutional federal programs and returning the money to America’s parents so that they may once again control the education of their children.


1999 Ron Paul 109:4 bureaucratically-determined probably should be unhyphenated: bureaucratically determined.

1999 Ron Paul 109:5 leveling oppressive taxes probably should be levying oppressive taxes.

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