Fiscal crisis good for education?

Thursday, January 10, 2013
Bob Kellogg (

Had America gone over the "fiscal cliff," one conservative education analyst believes education could have actually benefitted.

Coulson, Andrew (Cato Institute)Andrew Coulson, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational freedom, says that had the fiscal crisis not been avoided, the federal budget for education would have only suffered about a one-percent reduction. However, cuts would force educators to look for programs that are effective, eliminating ineffective ones "to the extent that it encourages people to look for more efficient ways to help children learn," he explains.

"Yes -- it would absolutely be effective, because for literally generations, we have been spending money on education at the federal level that has done absolutely nothing for student achievement," Coulson submits.

He points out that Washington has spent more than $2 trillion on K-12 programs in the past 40-45 years -- and there is little to show for it, he says.

"We're spending actually three times as much on a full K-12 education today as we did in 1970, but achievement at the end of high school has stagnated, or even declined in some areas, over that period of time," the Cato Institute spokesman explains.

State legislators this year are wrestling with funding problems at the local level because of a spotty and uneven economic recovery that is affecting tax revenues.

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