Ron Paul believes there is a revolution going on in education. Government controlled schools are declining in quality, all the while homeschooling resources are rapidly expanding because of the internet. Instructional videos by top-notch teachers are being made available for low cost, and some are even free. The homeschool revolution is here, and Ron Paul has developed a curriculum to help fuel it—RonPaulHomeschool.com.
Paul’s book, The School Revolution, makes the case for homeschool, and in doing so, he also promotes his curriculum. But this promotion comes across as a genuine desire to help parents educate their children. We all know Ron Paul has a passion for limited government, but he also has a passion for parent-controlled education.
The Public School Problem
Paul starts his book by criticizing America’s public school system. He discusses its decline in quality, morality, and safety. But Paul’s primary criticism of public education is that it is opposed to parents’ authority over their children. As he says, “A free society acknowledges that authority over education begins with the family” (p. 5). Of course, parents can extend their authority to a school, but public schools today do not share the values of many parents. Schools are being controlled by state and federal government rather than the local community.
It is important for parents to take back control of this vitally important aspect of life. Education is central to society “because each generation passes on its values, assumptions, and skills to the next generation” (p. 14). Yet the government has sought to undermine parents in this role, as modern educators believe parents are not “competent to be the sole providers of education” (p. 15). Paul therefore believes revolution in education must begin with the family.
The Homeschool Solution
It is expected that the libertarian Ron Paul would criticize the government’s role in education. But most of his book is positive, not negative. Paul sees great potential in education that is not being realized by the current system. He lays out a vision of education, arguing that we should be educating children to be leaders (ch. 2) and to leave a legacy (ch. 3). Part of leaving a legacy is finding a calling in life. Everyone needs a job to put food on the table, but you also need to find your calling—“the most important thing you can do in which you would be most difficult to replace” (p. 43).
There is little consensus in the public school in regards to content. Sadly, the one thing public schools do agree on is that the curriculum should be hostile toward Christianity and libertarianism. This alone provides good cause for parents to remove their children from the public schools.
Parents ought to have the final say in the content of their children’s education, not the state. Parents have a moral responsibility to oversee this content. But this means they have to pay for it. The right private school can be a good option, but this can be expensive. Paul therefore makes the case for homeschooling.
Homeschooling is being revolutionized by the combination of the internet and the free market. Public schools have sought to limit their competition by requiring teacher licensure, requiring compulsory attendance of students, and controlling the production of textbooks. But they have not been able to stop competition, and there is a growing abundance of educational resources that make homeschooling a superior option.
Paul is a big fan of self-instruction. He believes that classroom lectures cater to the lowest common denominator and are thus inefficient. The homeschool student can go at his own pace, and this often means he can get through material much faster than in the public schools (or slower if need be). Online education provides students with a host of resources for self-instruction, including videos and links to articles on the internet.
Paul’s Ideal School
The last three chapters of The School Revolution lay out Paul’s vision of ideal education. He believes homeschooling restores educational authority to parents and gives them the freedom to choose a curriculum for their child. Paul believes the following ought to be components of a good educational curriculum: reading, writing, public speaking, digital media, academic research, time management, goal-setting, job vs. calling, study habits, mathematics, self-pacing, and tutorials. These are all things that the Ron Paul Homeschool curriculum tries to incorporate.
Paul states that his curriculum targets the top 20% of students. It is best suited for the motivated and hard-working student. Paul’s curriculum has four different tracks for students: one specializing in social sciences and humanities, one focusing on natural science, one aimed at students wanting to apprentice with a local business, and one focused on the fine arts.
His curriculum includes two years of Western civilization, two years of accompanying Western literature, one year of American history, a one-year course on the U.S. Constitution, courses in economics and government, a course on time management and study habits, a course on leadership, and courses on speed-reading and typing.
One of the great opportunities available for homeschool students is that they can earn college credit in high school, which saves money in the long run. There are alternatives to the traditional route of graduating high school at 18 and then spending four expensive years at a university. Instead, students can use Paul’s curriculum to prepare for CLEP exams, which for $90 can get students three to six hours of college credit. There is the potential to have at least two years of college done by the time a student graduates high school.
Ron Paul makes an excellent case for homeschool. It’s hard to disagree with him on the problem of government-controlled education and the promise of the homeschooling alternative. Yes, homeschool takes time and money. But the parental time needed decreases as children grow older and become more self-taught. And though homeschooling means a parent has to stay at home with the children, there are several costs of participation in the workplace that are deducted (taxes, childcare, commuting, etc.). There is also the benefit of more time spent with children. As for resources, these are quite cheap and students have the potential to save thousands of dollars with CLEP exams.
My only criticism of The School Revolution is that it fails to speak about the Christian worldview as being central to education. Paul seems to make political freedom the focus of his curriculum rather than Christ. This is likely due to his target audience not all being Christians. However, Paul’s point is that parents ought to be in control of their children’s education, and this enables them to teach their worldview/religion to their children, whatever that may be. Paul is a Christian, and much of his curriculum is in line with the Christian worldview. Given that it incorporates Western history and basic Christian principles, I think the curriculum can still be used by Christians. Some of its courses, such as history and government, are too good to pass up.