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Ron Paul on Education

Republican Representative (TX-14); previously Libertarian for President


Obama's education stances compared to Paul's

Do Obama and Paul agree on school vouchers? (Yes; they both oppose them, but for different reasons). Do they agree on stem cell research? (No; Obama supports it; Paul opposes it). We cite details from Paul's books and speeches, and Obama's, so you can compare them, side-by-side, on issues like these:

Ron Paul vs. Barack Obama on Social Issues

Source: Paperback: Obama vs. Paul On The Issues , Jan 1, 2012

Student loan program is a total failure and unconstitutional

Q: We are looking at student loan debt that is near $1 trillion. How would you make college more affordable?

PAUL: Well, I think you proved that the policy of student loans is a total failure. I mean, a trillion dollars of debt? And what have they gotten? A poorer education and costs that have skyrocketed because of inflation, and they don't have jobs. There's nothing more dramatically failing than that program. There's no authority in the Constitution for the federal government to be dealing with education. We should get rid of the loan programs. We should get rid of the Department of Education and give tax credits, if you have to, to help people.

Q: But how do they pay for it? How do they now pay for college?

PAUL: The way you pay for cellphones and computers. You have the marketplace there. There's competition. Quality goes up. The price goes down.

Source: 2011 CNBC GOP Primary debate in Rochester MI , Nov 9, 2011

Abolish college aid after a transition period

Q: Young people are borrowing to pay for college at record levels. Would you abolish all federal student aid?

A: Eventually, but my program doesn't do it. There's a transition in this.

Q: But that's your ultimate aim.

A: Yes, because there's no authority to do this. And just think of all this willingness to want to help every student get a college education. So they're a trillion dollars in debt. We don't have any jobs for them. The quality of education has gone down. So it's a failed program.

Source: Sean Hannity 2012 presidential interviews "Hannity Primary" , Oct 24, 2011

Stop enforcing No Child Left Behind; allow opt-out of system

Q: What as president would you seriously do about a massive overreach of big government into the classroom?

JOHNSON: I am going to promise to advocate the abolishment of the federal Department of Education.

PAUL: If you care about your children, you'll get the federal government out of the business of educating our kids. In 1980, when the Republican Party ran, part of the platform was to get rid of the Department of Education. By the year 2000, it was eliminated, and we fed on to it. Then Republicans added No Child Left Behind. The goal should be set to get the government out completely, but don't enforce this law of No Child Left Behind. It's not going to do any good, and nobody likes it. And there's no value to it. The teachers don't like it, and the students don't like it. But there are other things that the federal government can do, and that is give tax credits for the people who will opt out. We ought to have a right to opt out of the public system if you want.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

Competition helps, but vouchers invite bureaucratic control

Competition is helpful in any endeavor. And this is true in education. The near monopoly control over the indoctrination of young people in our public school systems is counterbalanced by homeschooling, private schooling and education readily available on the Internet. The regulations on starting a variety of alternatives to public schooling are extremely tight and keep the market from operating as it might. The effort to provide more competition to the public school system has not solved the problem, though there are always a few who benefit from vouchers, tax credits, and charter schools. Too often these efforts are unfairly made available and do not eliminate the power of the state to control the curriculum. The best interim option for reform would be to give a tax credit for all educational expenses. Vouchers invite bureaucratic control of their usage and are unfairly distributed.
Source: Liberty Defined, by Rep. Ron Paul, p. 78-79 , Apr 19, 2011

No-Child-Left-Behind hooks institutions on federal funding

Not too many years ago, however, the Republican Party platform argued for getting rid of the Department of Education. This pretense was removed with the election of George W. Bush in the year 2000. With both Democratic and Republican support, he massively increased the Department of Education with the disastrous No Child Left Behind program. Now national control of all public schools is firmly a bipartisan effort. It doesn't seem to matter that students, parents, administrators, and teachers generally disapprove of No Child Left Behind. Once an institution is hooked on federal financing, it's virtually impossible to stop the bureaucratic regulations and mandates that routinely follow subsidies.
Source: Liberty Defined, by Rep. Ron Paul, p. 80 , Apr 19, 2011

Evolution doesn't support atheism nor diminish God

The creationists frown on the evolutionists, and the evolutionists dismiss the creationists as kooky and unscientific. Lost in this struggle are those who look objectively at all the scientific evidence for evolution without feeling any need to reject the notion of an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator. My personal view is that recognizing the validity of an evolutionary process does not support atheism nor should it diminish one's view about God and the universe. From my viewpoint, this is a debate about science and religion (and I wish it could be more civil!) and should not involve politicians at all. Why can't this remain an academic debate and not be made the political issue it has become? The answer is simple. Both sides want to use the state to enforce their views on others. One side doesn't mind using force to expose others to prayer and professing their faith. The other side demands that they have the right never to be offended and demands prohibition of any public expression of faith.
Source: Liberty Defined, by Rep. Ron Paul, p.104-105 , Apr 19, 2011

School prayer is not a federal issue

[Limits on Constitutional authority] holds true for issues like prayer in schools. Such issues were never meant to be decided by federal judges. The whole point of the American Revolution was to vindicate the principle of local self government.
Source: The Revolution: A Manifesto, by Ron Paul, p. 61 , Apr 1, 2008

Private funds for arts work better than government funds

Some Americans appear to believe that there would be no arts in America were it not for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). While the government requested $121 million for the NEA in 2006, private donations to the arts totaled $2.5 billion that year, dwarfing the NEA budget. NEA funds go not necessarily to the best artists, but to people who happen to be good at filling out government grant applications. I have my doubts that the same people populate both categories.
Source: The Revolution: A Manifesto, by Ron Paul, p. 75 , Apr 1, 2008

Close Dept. of Education, but donít dismantle public schools

Q: You said you want to abolish the public school system.

A: We elected conservatives to get rid of the Department of Education. We used to campaign on that. And what did we do? We doubled the size. I want to reverse that trend.

Q: What about public schools? Are you still for dismantling them?

A: No, Iím not. Itís not in my platform.

Q: When you ran for president in 1988, you called for the abolition of public schools.

A: I bet thatís a misquote. I do not recall that.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 ďMeet the CandidatesĒ series , Dec 23, 2007

Encourage homeschooling & private school via tax writeoff

It used to be the policy of the Republican Party to get rid of the Department of Education. We finally get in charge and a chance to do something, so we doubled the size of the Department of Education and we have No Child Left Behind. The teachers & the students donít like it, and the quality of education hasnít gone up while the cost of education has. We need to release the creative energy of the teachers at the local level. We can immediately give tax credits. I have a bill that would give tax credits to the teachers to raise their salaries. We should encourage homeschooling & private schooling and let the individuals write that off. The parents have to get control of the education. It used to be parents had control of education through local school boards. Today itís the judicial system and the executive branch of government, the bureaucracy, that controls things, and it would be predictable that the quality would go down. The money goes to the bureaucrats and not to the educational system a
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican Debate , Dec 12, 2007

Donít impeach judges for decisions on legislature prayers

Q: Recently, a federal judge ordered the Indiana legislature to censor their prayers. Specifically, the federal judge ordered the Indiana legislature to never allow anyone to offer an invocation prayer in Jesusí name. Will you as president consider impeachment a possible remedy for this judicial activism?
Source: [Xref Hunter] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Present scientific facts that support creationism

Q: Academic freedom is threatened when questioning the theory of evolution. An Iowa State astronomer was denied tenure because of his work in intelligent design in May 2007. Censoring alternative theories--dogmatic indoctrination--has replaced scientific inquiry. Will you encourage a more open approach to the presentation of scientific facts that contradict the theory of evolution?
Source: [Xref Hunter] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Equal funds for abstinence as contraceptive-based education

Q: Iím 18. One in four sexually-active teens has a sexually-transmitted disease. Meanwhile, 2.5 million American teens like me have taken public abstinence pledges, to save sex until marriage--the only 100%-proven effective solution and prevention for STDs. Would you bring abstinence-education funding onto equal ground with contraceptive-based education?
Source: [Xref Cox] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Tax-credited programs for Christian schooling

Q: Iím 17, and Iím the product of school choice. In the public schools I repeated the 7th grade three times, because of my deficiency in math & English. My mother then sent me to New Generation, a Christian school. After one year, my math improved 5 grade levels, and my English improved 3. Will you support school choice for other students like me with similar tax-credit programs?
Source: [Xref Keyes] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Guarantee parity for home school diplomas

My commitment is to ensure that home schooling remains a practical alternative for American families. As President I will advance tax credits through the Family Education Freedom Act, which reduces taxes to make it easier for parents to home school by allowing them to devote more of their own funds to their childrenís education. I am committed to guaranteeing parity for home school diplomas and advancing equal scholarship consideration for students entering college from a home school environment.
Source: 2008 House campaign website, www.ronpaul2008.com, ďIssuesĒ , Sep 1, 2007

Voted YES on reauthorizing the DC opportunity scholarship program.

Congressional Summary:The SOAR Act award five-year grants on a competitive basis to nonprofit organizations to carry out an expanded school choice opportunities to students who are District of Columbia residents and who come from households:
  1. receiving assistance under the supplemental nutrition assistance program; or
  2. with incomes not exceeding 185% of the poverty line.
Provides funds to the Mayor of DC, if the Mayor agrees to specified requirements, for:
  1. the DC public schools to improve public education, and
  2. the DC public charter schools to improve and expand quality public charter schools.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Bishop, R-UT]: In 1996, Congress insisted upon a charter school program in DC. You will hear from both sides of the aisle recognition of the great value that that program has, and justifiably so. There is a waiting list in DC for those charter schools. This bill increases the percentage of funding going to charter schools in the District. In 2003, an Opportunity Scholarship was instituted, at the insistence of Congress. Again, there was a waiting list of people wanting the opportunity; disadvantaged kids who wanted the opportunity that this scholarship afforded them. There were 216 kids at the time scheduled to enter the program who were not allowed; the bill remedies that.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Hastings, D-FL]: In the last 41 years voters have rejected private school vouchers every time they have been proposed. In 1981, 89% of the people in a referendum in DC voted against vouchers. So how dare we come here to tell these people that we are going to thrust upon them something they don't want without a single public official in this community being consulted. Congress' oversight of the District is not an excuse for political pandering to the Republicans' special interest of the day du jour.

Reference: Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR); Bill HRes186 ; vote number 11-HV200 on Mar 30, 2011

Voted NO on $40B for green public schools.

Congressional Summary:Make grants to states for the modernization, renovation, or repair of public schools, including early learning facilities and charter schools, to make them safe, healthy, high-performing, and technologically up-to-date.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. BETSY MARKEY (D, CO-4): This legislation will improve the learning environment for our children, reduce energy costs and create new jobs across the country. Green schools not only save school districts money but also teach the importance of sustainable living to children at a young age.

Opponent's argument to vote No: Rep. GLENN THOMPSON (R, PA-5): We all know our Nation is drowning in a sea of red ink. The bill we're debating today would add an estimated $40 billion in new spending. And despite the majority's hollow promises of fiscal responsibility, there's nothing in the legislation to offset this hefty price tag with spending reductions elsewhere. This is just more of the same borrow and spend, spend and borrow policy that we've seen under this majority and this administration.

Reference: 21st Century Green Schools Act; Bill H.R.2187 ; vote number 2009-H259 on May 14, 2009

Voted NO on allowing Courts to decide on "God" in Pledge of Allegiance.

Amendment to preserve the authority of the US Supreme Court to decide any question pertaining to the Pledge of Allegiance. The bill underlying this amendment would disallow any federal courts from hearing cases concerning the Pledge of Allegiance. This amendment would make an exception for the Supreme Court.

Proponents support voting YES because:

I believe that our Pledge of Allegiance with its use of the phrase "under God" is entirely consistent with our Nation's cultural and historic traditions. I also believe that the Court holding that use of this phrase is unconstitutional is wrong. But this court-stripping bill is not necessary. This legislation would bar a Federal court, including the Supreme Court, from reviewing any claim that challenges the recitation of the Pledge on first amendment grounds.

If we are a Nation of laws, we must be committed to allowing courts to decide what the law is. This bill is unnecessary and probably unconstitutional. It would contradict the principle of Marbury v. Madison, intrude on the principles of separation of powers, and degrade our independent Federal judiciary.

Opponents support voting NO because:

I was disappointed 4 years ago when two judges of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that our Pledge, our statement of shared national values, was somehow unconstitutional. I do not take legislation that removes an issue from the jurisdiction of this court system lightly. This legislation is appropriate, however, because of the egregious conduct of the courts in dealing with the Pledge of Allegiance.

By striking "under God" from the Pledge, the Court has shown contempt for the Congress which approved the language, and, more importantly, shows a complete disregard for the millions of Americans who proudly recite the Pledge as a statement of our shared national values and aspirations. No one is required to recite the Pledge if they disagree with its message.

Reference: Watt amendment to Pledge Protection Act; Bill H R 2389 ; vote number 2006-384 on Jul 19, 2006

Voted NO on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges.

This vote is on a substitute bill (which means an amendment which replaces the entire text of the original bill). Voting YES means support for the key differences from the original bill: lowering student loan interest rates; $59 million for a new Predominantly Black Serving Institution program; $25 million for a new graduate Hispanic Serving Institution program; provide for year- round Pell grants; and repeal the Single Lender rule. The substitute's proponents say:
  • The original bill has some critical shortcomings. First and foremost, this substitute will cut the new Pell Grant fixed interest rate in half from 6.8% to 3.4%, to reduce college costs to those students most in need.
  • It would also establish a new predominantly black-serving institutions programs to boost college participation rates for low-income black students, and a new graduate Hispanic-serving institution program.
  • As we saw from 1995 to 2000, the questions employers were asking was not your race, not your ethnicity, not your religion, they wanted to know if you had the skills and talents to do the job. Most often today, those skills and that talent requires a higher education. A college education is going to have to become as common as a high school education.
    Reference: Reverse the Raid on Student Aid Act; Bill HR 609 Amendment 772 ; vote number 2006-080 on Mar 30, 2006

    Voted NO on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror.

    Children's Prayers Resolution: Expressing the sense of Congress that schools should allow children time to pray for, or silently reflect upon, the country during the war against terrorism.
    Reference: Bill sponsored by Isakson, R-GA; Bill H.Con.Res.239 ; vote number 2001-445 on Nov 15, 2001

    Voted NO on requiring states to test students.

    No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Vote to pass a bill that would authorize $22.8 billion in education funding, a 29 percent increase from fiscal 2001. The bill would require states to test students to track progress.
    Reference: Bill sponsored by Boehner R-OH; Bill HR 1 ; vote number 2001-145 on May 23, 2001

    Voted NO on allowing vouchers in DC schools.

    Vote to create a non-profit corporation to administer federally-funded vouchers for low-income children in the District of Columbia.
    Reference: Amendment introduced by Armey, R-TX; Bill HR 4380 ; vote number 1998-411 on Aug 6, 1998

    Voted YES on vouchers for private & parochial schools.

    Vote to pass a bill to allow states to use certain federal funds designated for elementary and secondary education to provide scholarships, or vouchers, to low-income families to send their children to private schools, including religious schools.
    Reference: Bill sponsored by Riggs, R-CA; Bill HR 2746 ; vote number 1997-569 on Nov 4, 1997

    Abolish the federal Department of Education.

    Paul adopted the Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement:

      BE IT RESOLVED that the Republican Liberty Caucus endorses the following [among its] principles:
    1. The US Department of Education should be abolished, leaving education decision making at the state, local or personal level.
    2. Parents have the right to spend their money on the school or method of schooling they deem appropriate for their children.
    Source: Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement 00-RLC2 on Dec 8, 2000

    Sponsored bill for private scholarships to public schools.

    Paul sponsored for tax deduction for private scholarships to public schools

    OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To allow an income tax credit for amounts contributed to charitable organizations which provide elementary or secondary school scholarships and for contributions for instructional materials and materials for extracurricular activities.

    SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Rep. PAUL: This act, a companion to my Family Education Freedom Act, takes a further step toward returning control over education resources to private citizens by providing a $3,000 tax credit for donations to scholarship funds to enable low-income children to attend private schools. It also encourages private citizens to devote more of their resources to helping public schools, by providing a $3,000 tax credit for cash or in-kind donations to public schools to support academic or extra curricular programs.

    Many of those who share my belief that the most effective education reform is to put parents back in charge of the education system have embraced government-funded voucher programs as a means to that end. I certainly sympathize with the goals of voucher proponents, but supporters of parental control of education should view Federal voucher programs with a high degree of skepticism because vouchers are a creation of the government, not the market. Vouchers are a taxpayer-funded program benefiting a particular group of children selected by politicians and bureaucrats. Therefore, the Federal voucher program supported by many conservatives is little more than another tax-funded welfare program establishing an entitlement to a private school education. Vouchers thus raise the same constitutional and moral questions as other transfer programs. A superior way of improving education is to return control of the education dollar directly to the American people through tax cuts and tax credits.

    LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to House Committee on Ways and Means; never came to a vote.

    Source: Education Improvement Tax Cut Act (H.R.611) 03-HR0611 on Feb 5, 2003

    Rated 67% by the NEA, indicating a mixed record on public education.

    Paul scores 67% by the NEA on public education issues

    The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:

    To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.
    In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
    Source: NEA website 03n-NEA on Dec 31, 2003

    Supports a Constitutional Amendment for school prayer.

    Paul co-sponsored a resolution for a School Prayer Amendment:

    H.J.RES.52 (2001), H.J.RES.66 (1999), S.J.RES. 1, H.J.RES.12, H. J. RES. 108, & H. J. RES. 55:

    Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions. No person shall be required by the United States or by any State to participate in prayer . Neither the United States nor any State shall compose the words of any prayer to be said in public schools.
    H. J. RES. 78 (1997):
    To secure the people's right to acknowledge God according to the dictates of conscience: Neither the United States nor any State shall establish any official religion, but the people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, or traditions on public property, including schools, shall not be infringed. Neither the United States nor any State shall require any person to join in prayer or other religious activity, prescribe school prayers, discriminate against religion, or deny equal access to a benefit on account of religion.
    Source: H.J.Res.78 97-HJR78 on May 8, 1997

    Other candidates on Education: Ron Paul on other issues:
    Incumbents:
    Pres.Barack Obama
    V.P.Joe Biden
    GOP Candidates:
    Rep.Newt Gingrich(GA)
    Rep.Ron Paul(TX)
    Gov.Mitt Romney(MA)
    Third Party Candidates:
    Rep.Virgil Goode(C)
    Gov.Gary Johnson(L)
    Gov.Buddy Roemer(AE)
    Jill Stein(G)
    C.G.David Walker(AE)

    GOP Withdrawals:
    Rep.Michele Bachmann(MN)
    Herman Cain(GA)
    Gov.Chris Cristie(NJ)
    Gov.Mike Huckabee(AR)
    Gov.Jon Huntsman(UT)
    Rep.Thaddeus McCotter(MI)
    Gov.Sarah Palin(AK)
    Gov.Tim Pawlenty(MN)
    Gov.Rick Perry(TX)
    Sen.Rick Santorum(PA)
    Donald Trump(NY)
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    Page last updated: May 31, 2012