Voucher time

Fifty years after Milton Friedman proposed funding education through vouchers, the idea is starting to catch on, he writes in the Wall Street Journal.

. . . public interest in and support for vouchers and tax credits continues to grow. Legislative proposals to channel government funds directly to students rather than to schools are under consideration in something like 20 states. Sooner or later there will be a breakthrough; we shall get a universal voucher plan in one or more states. When we do, a competitive private educational market serving parents who are free to choose the school they believe best for each child will demonstrate how it can revolutionize schooling.

Friedman and his wife fund a foundation to promote school choice.

I heard Friedman talk about how to break up state enterprises after the collapse of the Soviet empire, which he said was bound to happen. Two months later, the East German people tore down the Berlin Wall.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. From the tone of the editorial I think it’s pretty clear that Friedman was upset and morally outraged at the political defeat of his voucher proposal and the tactics used to cause it.

    If that’s true, and I think it is, I have to wonder at the man’s insightfulness and understanding of the political process.

    The power at the disposal of the public education system is vast and the very human response to a reduction of power is to resist. Any increase in the scope of parental choice represents a reduction in the power of the public education system and, from the point of view of the people who have the power now, is a bad idea.

    Also, proponents of the public education system have specific and measureable quantities that they stand to lose if parental choice goes ahead.

    Union power is reduced because the cost of unionizing zillions of charters is prohibitive. The vast throngs of Chief Instructional Officers become unnecessary.

    Proponents of choice however have a much more nebulous future that they’re reaching toward.

    Maybe, sometime in the future, in some as yet undefined fashion, parents will have more choice in the education of their children. Things will, hopefully, be better.

    On the one hand you’ve got people with considerable power and resources who stand to lose their jobs, careers and influence and, on the other side of the issue you’ve got people who are unhappy with the way things are and are groping toward, well, something, anything. That inescapable lack of focus is part of what’s been holding school choice movement back.

  2. From the tone of the editorial I think it’s pretty clear that Friedman was upset and morally outraged at the political defeat of his voucher proposal and the tactics used to cause it.

    I didn’t think it was possible to infer emotional state from the article. Friedman made a few blunt statements, the tone of which seem to fit with his speaking style. That’s probably why I enjoy listening to him speak.

    As for moral outrage, I think the point of the article was to generate a little moral outrage in the minds of the readers.

    on the other side of the issue you’ve got people who are unhappy with the way things are and are groping toward, well, something, anything.

    I think the focus of the Friedman Foundation is pretty specific: vouchers. As for other groups and reform-minded individuals, it’s hard to comment without specifying which ones.