Out of politics, Ron Paul launches his own curriculum

It’s not uncommon for former government officials or ex-politicians to enter academia when they leave Washington.

But former Rep. Ron Paul has gone a few steps further by creating his own curriculum.

The Texas Republican, libertarian hero and three-time presidential candidate aims to teach home-schooled students four core tenets: Liberty versus coercion in Western history; how to defend the freedom philosophy; what it takes for success in college; and how to start a business.

The courses are designed for home education, a growing trend across the nation. There are at least 1.5 million home-schooled students in the U.S., according to 2007 data from the federal government.

In 2003, there were just 1.1 million, the National Center for Education Statistics reported, and the figure today is believed to be higher than the 2007 estimate.

While Mr. Paul is one of the most notable figures to introduce his own curriculum, there’s nothing to stop Americans from designing their own courses and tailoring them to their own children.

“It’s the free market. In other words, education in a country like America is supposed to be free from state control. Anybody can start a curriculum,” said Brian D. Ray, an education specialist and president of the Oregon-based National Home Education Research Institute.

There’s nothing keeping a private school or any other institution that doesn’t take tax dollars, Mr. Ray added, from implementing such a curriculum.

“I suppose the local Catholic schools could start using the Ron Paul curriculum. Or the local libertarian private schools,” he said.

Parents can begin enrolling their children Sept. 2. All courses are free through fifth grade, and each will rely on primary source texts rather than the traditional school board-approved textbooks found in American public schools.

“Textbooks are screened by committees. They dumb down the material,” said Gary North, the project’s director of curriculum development and a former research assistant to the congressman during his time in office.

Mr. North tells prospective customers in an online video that, by the end of the curriculum, “Your child should be able to do the following: speak in public and speak confidently; write effectively; run a website; operate a YouTube channel; understand mathematics” and have mastered other skills, including an understanding of freedom, liberty and the foundations of the American government and economy.

Mr. Paul also offers a “100 percent money-back guarantee” if parents aren’t satisfied.

“I am confident that most students will see the value of it. But no one can please everyone, as I discovered in Congress,” he said.

The courses aren’t accredited by any educational agency. Mr. Paul’s website explains that state home-school regulators likely won’t accept the courses as valid because “our philosophic goal is to get their agencies shut down.”

But unaccredited courses aren’t uncommon, either, Mr. Ray said. While it could affect a student’s future college prospects, there’s no requirement that a homeschool curriculum meet the approval of the state.

“Many mom and pop businesses started up in the last 20 or 30 years and created curricula. Most of them are not accredited, and they don’t have to be,” Mr. Ray said.

More information on the curriculum is available at ronpaulcurriculum.com.

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