New homeschooling program to be offered by Ron Paul; K-5 at no fee
“Liberty just took a huge step forward,” declared Thomas E. Woods, Jr., in announcing the launch of the Ron Paul Curriculum. Having retired from Congress, the former Republican representative from Texas and three-time presidential candidate is setting his sights on creating future generations of liberty-minded activists and entrepreneurs through his new homeschooling program.
“I believe homeschooling is the wave of the future,” Paul wrote on April 6, the day the program’s website became active.
He clearly intends to ride that wave. The same day as his curriculum was announced, he spoke to the MidWest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has a forthcoming book on the subject as well.
In a video introducing the program, Dr. Gary North, director of curriculum development, said that the Ron Paul Curriculum will “teach the biblical principle of self-government and personal responsibility, which is also the foundation of the free-market economy”; be “based on a detailed study of the history of liberty as well as liberty’s rivals”; “provide a thorough understanding of Austrian-school economics”; and be “academically rigorous.”
According to the website, although only grades six through 10 will be offered in September, by 2015 all grades, including kindergarten, are expected to be available through the site. Kindergarten through fifth grade will be completely free. The remaining grades will cost $250 plus $50 for each course, and there is a 100-percent money-back guarantee for those who are dissatisfied. Parents are invited to listen to the same lectures their children are hearing at no additional cost.
The curriculum does not use textbooks, instead relying on video lessons and other readings, often from primary sources. Students who need help may, besides asking their parents, seek assistance from other students on the forums.
“This is how ‘the little red schoolhouse on the prairie’ was taught up until World War I,” North explained on the website. “The older, brighter students helped teach the younger ones. This system worked. Then it was scrapped. This site resurrects it.”
The program also heavily emphasizes writing and public speaking. Older students will be expected to maintain their own blogs, where they will post weekly essays, and to start YouTube channels.
North, who was Paul’s research assistant during his first term in Congress, will be teaching several of the courses, including economics, Western civilization, Western literature, starting a home-based business, and writing direct-mail advertising copy. His high-school preparation course is already available on the website.
Woods, who holds a B.A. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Columbia University, both in history, will be teaching courses in Western civilization, the U.S. Constitution, government, and the history of American wars. Considering that Woods is also the bestselling author of such tomes as The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, Who Killed the Constitution? (with Kevin R.C. Gutzman), and Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century, one can be certain that these subjects will be approached from an entirely different perspective from that of public (or even many private) schools.
Other instructors include Wofford University economics professor Timothy Terrell, Bojidar Marinov, and Bradley Fish, Jr. Fish, a homeschool success story, earned a bachelor’s degree in business management at age 18. His parents and grandmother will be teaching other courses at the elementary and middle-school level.
The Ron Paul Curriculum program will not grade students’ work or issue report cards or diplomas. By avoiding these activities, North writes, the program remains strictly informational, and as such is protected by the First Amendment (at least for now). If it began acting like an educational institution, he maintains, it could then be regulated by state governments. “I regard all such regulations as an illegitimate infringement on the right of parents to educate their children,” says North. “Any compromise here, philosophically speaking, is a compromise with tyranny.” For similar reasons, the school will not seek accreditation.
North, however, does not believe the lack of official recognition of the program will hinder students in any way. Fish, he points out, earned a degree from an accredited college by taking distance-learning exams. The school didn’t care what he had learned in high school as long as he could do the work they required of him.
While the Ron Paul Curriculum’s objectives are admirable, not all parents will be comfortable with this approach because it puts the burden of measurement on them and affords them little protection against state and local governments, says Alan Scholl, executive director of Freedom Project Education (FPE), a Wisconsin-based online classical school for homeschoolers, with similar aspirations.
“People generally appreciate and seek tangible evidence of their accomplishments for their own satisfaction, to assure future employers, or to assist in application to future educational institutions,” he told The New American in an e-mail.
Scholl does not believe that seeking accreditation or other external stamps of approval necessarily entails surrender to the state, observing that “there are many private bodies which afford accreditation” and that “FPE will likely seek the approval of one or more of these private school bodies eventually.” And while North is correct that the Ron Paul Curriculum would have to meet certain state standards in order to issue diplomas, Scholl states that, at least for the time being, these standards do not “contain the dangerous politically correct content of government schools.”
He also notes that although North’s stance against all state involvement in education is admirable, “There is a real concern about the immediate risks to families who completely reject all authority rules, governing bodies and requirements.” Numerous government agencies at various levels can take action against families who fail to meet their requirements, often beginning with seizure of the children. “The principle is clearly with the families,” Scholl writes, “but many families may not be willing to risk the very real ramifications of such a stand.”
Still, for those willing to assume the risks and shoulder most of the educational burden, the Ron Paul Curriculum may prove to be an effective way to train up future generations of liberty lovers. Will it be, as Woods suggested, “Ron Paul’s most significant contribution to the cause of liberty”? Only time will tell. But Scholl, despite his misgivings about certain aspects of the program, welcomes its entry into the educational marketplace. “We hope to see many such efforts to restore American education,” he said, “and eventually replace the government education run amok in our nation.”
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