The CATO Institute’s Curious Role in School Reform

CATO analyst Adam Schaffer is making the rounds  getting face time in front of state legislatures expousing the wonders of “education tax credit” bills. When he’s not talking about it, he’s writing about it. The Times and Democrat posted one such effort this morning. It must be noted that the CATO institute whom pays Schaffer’s salary makes no bones about it’s desires to privatize schools. Here is their position statement on Education:

Cato’s education research is founded on the principle that parents are best suited to make important decisions regarding the care and education of their children. Our researchers seek to shift the terms of public debate in favor of the fundamental right of parents and toward a future where government-run schools give way to a dynamic, independent system of schools competing to meet the needs of American children.

Fair enough. At least CATO doesn’t hide behind their agenda. But Schaffer’s argument is a little too stealth; his conclusions a bit too tortured; and his response to opponents, a little to shrill and personal.

The education tax credit itself may end good public policy, but Schaefer’s leap that it alone caused learning gains and has the potential to save taxpayers the money his says is a leap too far. His reference and advocacy of one state report (Florida’s)  to South Carolina’s education policymakers had panacea written all over it.

His attack on a former teacher and public school advocate who criticized his lobbying technique smelled oddly partisan. Schaffer words also demonstrated the kind of loathing for teachers which has become a sad pattern of market-based reformers.

Dishonesty in public discourse hurts all of us. And Spearman’s behavior is even more concerning because she is a former schoolteacher and now leads the S.C. Association of School Administrators.

South Carolina’s children and taxpayers deserve far better from their so-called “leaders” in public education

CATO is on board with philanthropic efforts of the nation’s wealthy in their support for education. Here’s a glowing report from CATO on Warren Buffett’s donation to the Gates Foundation.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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