Education Expanding Choice through Tax Credits—Q&A with Cato's Andrew Coulson


Andrew Coulson, director of the Center for Education Freedom at the Cato Institute, believes giving businesses tax credits for sending kids to private school is the most effective way to expand school choice. The regulatory and legal obstacles to charters schools and vouchers, he argues, present too many hassles to work around. sat down with Coulson at the National Summit on Education Reform in Washington, D.C. to talk about the public education tax credits and more.

This interview is part of National School Choice Week, a non-partisan initiative to raise awareness of how competition and choice can transform K-12 education.

Approximately 6 minutes. Filmed by Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg, and edited by Epstein. Interview by Nick Gillespie.

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  1. I’m cool with this, except that this conflicts with the goal of simplifying the tax code. Plus, I am against government subsidies, even in the form of vouchers or credits, for private education.

    Libertarians should take direct action, encouraging self-teaching; unschooling; free schools (wiki); etc.

    1. “I’m cool with this, except that this conflicts with the goal of simplifying the tax code.”

      It would simplify the tax code quite a bit. Try pulling a Stossel and print out and stack on your desk all tax law currently on the books which involves public schools. It will crush your desk. Eliminating public schooling eliminates all this and you would replace it with maybe three pages about which types of scholorship funds are approved for the tax credit.

  2. Did he say “intergalactically”?
    If so, this would explain why he never tales off that jacket-it’s his skin

  3. LOL, OK this makes a lot of sense dude.



    1. +1

      Just tear down the system we have, don’t add more to it.

      1. Tear it down how? This IS a method of dismantling the system. Tear it down isn’t an actionable plan, this is. If this worked, all you would have is private scholorship funds(which will be crucial in a free market system anyway) and individuals donating to them. I generally oppose tax credits but one that brings down the entire public school monopoly, the Dept. of Ed AND the teachers unions, leaving only a tax credit and an otherwise private system that would itself serve as proof that even that tax credit could be done away with, well that’s different.

  5. As far as social engineering goes, tax credits seem the least harmful way to do it. A tax credit is not a “subsidy,” as long as somebody has paid into the system at least enough to cover the credit. (If they haven’t, then such a tax “credit” is actually a wealth transfer.)

    Tax cuts and credits seem as if they are subsidies to people who are used to government spending whatever it wants to anyway, and making up any shortfall with increased taxes that must be borne on the backs of those who DON’T get the credits or the benefit of the cuts. Unless tax cuts are matched by spending cuts, the ever-larger burden of government is spread unfairly throughout the population, and those who get the shaft reasonably, but incorrectly, see the cuts and credits as “subsidies.” This is one of the evil games that government plays, pitting those who get cuts and credits against those who don’t.

    Why not just give dollar-for-dollar tax credits for contributing to ANYONE’s education: friend, family, anonymous beneficiary (via scholarship fund donations, e.g.), direct donations to schools, etc.? I agree that this general mechanism would be the best way in the short term to transition to a private funding model. With that mechanism well-established, we could then start dismantling the public-funding model and collect an ever-smaller amount for the “public” education system until the transition were complete.

  6. I’ve tried arguing with friends about vouchers or any other kind of school choice. It’s pretty frustrating how many fall back on “but they’ll teach creationism”. My answer is always, so what? Kids grow up and face reality sooner or later, and the more that conflicts with what their parents taught them, the more they will question the rest. Kids who believe pi = 3 because the bible says so aren’t going to get very far. Besides, goes my second argument, parents have all the time in the world to indoctrinate their kids at home and in church; a few more hours on less than half the days in the year isn’t going to do any worse.

    Then I point out that a lot of parents want their kids to go to college, real college, not Bob Jones or Hamburger U, and those colleges are going to have real entrance requirements. It won’t take very many parents finding their kids rejected for poor education before the rest wise up and tone down the creationism.

    My final argument is that public schools are so bad now that it would be hard to find worse, and because there is only one brainwashing system, everybody has to fight for control of it to prevent the other parents from instituting some other brainwashing. If parents could freely choose how to brainwash their own kids, they wouldn’t care near as much how other kids are brainwashed.

    Alas, none of it does much good. People have it so ingrained in their system that there can be only one proper education system that they can’t conceive of any other way.

  7. it’s really a good post ?thank you for your sharing

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