Rand Paul's Education Stance Resonates in Iowa

“I recognize the great potential of local schools and parents who are allowed the freedom to manage their own children’s educational needs, according to the community they live in.”

“What about local control?”

The first is a partial quotation from Rand Paul’s United States Senate website.  The second is from an editorial in last Sunday’s Des Moines Register bemoaning the state government’s interference in local control of school calendars.  One is from a potential Republican candidate for President, and the other is from a left-leaning editorial board.  Isn’t that interesting?

Both reflect an attitude that resonates in Iowa, and across America, that people should be able to decide how to educate their own children in their own communities.  A 2014 PDK / Gallup poll showed that most Americans believe local school boards should have the greatest influence over schools and give higher grades to their local schools than to the school system in general.  The same poll showed deep suspicion of centralized control of education standards, and support for parent choice.  6 in 10 Americans oppose Common Core and 7 in 10 support charter schools.

While the issue of state government dictating school calendars is not the same as the federal government dictating school curriculum, the fact remains that local control of education decisions is something that Iowans are already talking about.  It’s an issue that transcends traditional party lines.  Public school teachers, administrators, and journalists—not exactly core GOP constituencies—have come out to argue that decisions affecting local kids should be made at the local level.  It’s just common sense to most people that they and their neighbors know more about their childrens’ needs than officials in some bureaucracy.

People don’t want to be dictated to when it comes to how their children are educated.  They want the freedom to experiment, try new approaches, and figure out works best for the children in their communities rather than following a one-size-fits-all approach that treats every school district and child as interchangeable.  Rand Paul understands this and he should hammer home that message in Iowa.

[mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] has been a consistent advocate for decentralizing education and returning power to parents.  He’d leave tax dollars spent on the federal education bureaucracy at home, returning it to the states to be spent on actual education needs rather than officials salaries.  He opposes Common Core and would get the feds out of the business of dictating local curriculum.  He supports vouchers to help students escape from failing public schools, a policy with the potential to attract poor and minority voters that are not well-served by the present system.

I hope Rand Paul makes education liberty a central issue in his Iowa campaign.  Iowans are proud of their education system, and with good reason.  It’s one of the best in America, and it got that way not as a gift from Washington but because of the hard work of parents and educators in Iowa school districts.  Being pro-education doesn’t mean being pro-education bureaucracy.  The tendency to equate support for education with throwing more resources at the status quo is nonsense, and it should be confronted head on.  Republicans are the real party of education.  Let’s stand on that.