What America Can Learn from School Choice in Other Countries

What America Can Learn from School Choice in Other Countries

What America Can Learn from School Choice in Other Countries

What America Can Learn from School Choice in Other Countries


This book draws out the critical lessons for U. S. policymakers and shows how freedom to choose schools and healthy competition among schools can create strong academic success.


There are a number of sound reasons to believe that an education system based on consumer choice and free markets would produce better results than one based on bureaucratic structures and government operation. All over the world, markets and consumer choice have proven superior to government control and distribution. Schooling, like medical research, computer software production, or law, is essentially an information-sharing activity; and the free market, not government provision, is demonstrably better suited to efficient production and distribution of those services. There is no reason that the education industry should be an exception.

Education reformers and policymakers are starting to recognize that, and more states and localities are implementing market-based reforms. In the United States, at least 10 states have enacted school choice programs, and Congress recently funded a voucher program for children living in Washington, D.C. Other states have allowed charter schools and choice among public schools.

In some other countries, school choice is commonplace. Americans might be surprised to learn that in countries such as Australia, Sweden, and the Netherlands parents can choose private, even religious, schools without incurring any financial penalty. Today, in many ex-communist countries, parents have more educational freedom than American parents. In those countries, parents can choose private schools and also work with others to create new independent schools.

As we move toward more school choice in America, we ought to be aware of the lessons offered by the experiences of other countries. What school choice policies are most effective? How well do private schools serve the poor? Does school choice lead to social divisions along religious, economic, or ethnic lines? What policies are necessary to promote the widest selection of education opportunities for the largest number of children? Also, what controls and regulations are most harmful to the development of a competitive education . . .

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