Book of the Month
The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System, by Ron Paul, Grand Central Publishing, 2013, $23.00.
Ron Paul is a homeschool advocate who offers an offbeat answer to the ubiquitous question faced by homeschoolers, “What about social skills?” He suggests that parents respond, “You mean like turning down drug dealers politely?” Some of what children learn at today’s public schools goes against parents’ worldview, and is in the end harmful.
In The School Revolution, the former Texas Congressman and Presidential candidate applies his libertarian viewpoint to education issues. Personal responsibility is a theme for both parents and students; students who do not graduate as self-reliant citizens have been failed by their parents and by whichever education system they’ve attended.
Dr. Paul laments parents’ failure to recognize that public education, although convenient and cheap, is often substandard. He says, “To the extent that any society substitutes a source of authority over education other than the family, it departs from liberty.”
Claiming that education is a debate over ethics, Paul says that “tax-funded educators” often believe children are under the authority of the state, and better off there than under the influence of their parents. Paul notes the hostility of schools, from kindergarten through college, toward Christianity and capitalism. He says their emphasis on the social justice agenda of “global warming, poverty, multiculturalism, and gender politics” causes learning about such things as Western civilization and the U.S Constitution to fall between the cracks.
Using the premise that a monopoly hurts customers, the author uses the example of the Post Office as a direction in which education is headed. Once there was only the U.S. Mail, then others offered the customer better options. Paul supports “creation of cost-effective rival educational systems in the private sector,” as well as homeschool options.
Paul’s overall outlook for traditional education is bleak. He is not encouraged by attempts at reform.
Alternatives already in place that Paul finds promising include online education from sources like edX.org, Coursera.org, the Khan Academy, and the University of Phoenix. He will also offer his own online curriculum for students who are self-starters. Paul believes online alternatives and the “free market [are] going to foreclose on tax-funded schools,” unless government intervention, the education bureaucracy, and unions halt progress.
Dr. Paul concludes, “The most effective way to reform the tax-funded schools is for dedicated parents to remove their children from those schools.”