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Voter Guide: Ryan vs. Nehlen on Education

Voters in the Wisconsin 1st Congressional District have an important choice to make in the August 9th open primary. Speaker Ryan has had a large impact on current education policy. Education is a major issue for our readers in the 1st Congressional District, so we put together this summary of education positions taken from Paul Ryan’s congressional website and voting record as well as Paul Nehlen’s campaign website.  It should be noted that Paul Ryan does not have educational positions on his campaign website.

Education Issue

Paul Ryan Record

Paul Nehlen Vision


Government Transparency

Despite promises, Ryan:

“Keep government as limited as possible in order to keep us free.”Work to have government safeguard our rights, not control our lives and those of our children.

Federal Control of Education

Ryan-backed ESSA “prohibits“ U.S. Secretary of Education from imposing standards or tests. But, with no enforcement mechanism and multiple other mandates, that prohibition is meaningless.Moreover, the secretary has veto power over federally mandated state plans. Enforce the 10th Amendment, which does not allow federal control of education because it is not an enumerated power in the Constitution.

Cementing Common Core

ESSA cements the academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, and psychologically manipulative Common Core, rebranded as state-derived standards.Ryan ignored the parents who warned this would happen. Nehlen rejects Common Core and wants to:

  • Halt centrally planned, assembly-line education
  • Match federal education policy to the reality of children’s individuality
  • Restore and boost local control of education.

Reducing Education to Workforce Training

Ryan holds a utilitarian view that encouragess reduction of education to mere workforce training: “A well-educated workforce is one of the key drivers of strong economic growth.” Nehlen sees education as a path to personal growth and freedom: “Kids should be who they are and learn in the way that best suits them…[A]s they grow and mature…each child’s individual life experiences suggest and inspire the pathways that will allow them to choose and build a future of their own making.”

Out-of-Control Assessment

Ryan-backed ESSA resulted in:

  • 8-fold+ increase in standardized assessment since just prior to No Child Left Behind
  • New assessments with no demonstrated validity, rigged to fail 70% of our children
  • Coercion of teachers to enforce Common Core at risk of losing tenure, merit pay, or even their jobs.
“The testing madness has to stop. Teachers want to teach. We ought to let them.”

Data Privacy

Thanks to Ryan’s close association with corporate interests, ESSA facilitates unprecedented collection and exploitation of personally identifiable student data, including psychological data, at the hands of government and corporations.

To Ryan’s credit, he has so far kept the controversial Strengthening Education through Research Act, or SETRA, from obtaining a floor vote.

Nehlen would work to:

  • End mass collection of student data
  • Put parents in charge of data disclosure decisions by insisting on policies that allow them to opt their child in to data collection—rather than requiring them to opt their children out.

Parental Autonomy

Ryan- and corporate-backed ESSA considers parents as mere partners with government in their own children’s education and expands invasive, harmful and ineffective federal preschool. Nehlen would work to:

  • Let Americans keep more of their own money, boosting parental resources for better educational pathways for their children.
  • Empower parents with educational options, based on their children’s education needs and learning styles