Liberty and Learning: Milton Friedman's Voucher Idea at Fifty

Liberty and Learning: Milton Friedman's Voucher Idea at Fifty

Liberty and Learning: Milton Friedman's Voucher Idea at Fifty

Liberty and Learning: Milton Friedman's Voucher Idea at Fifty

Excerpt

In 1955 Milton Friedman published an essay, [The Role of Government in Education,] that articulated an old idea of liberty in a fresh way. The centerpiece of that essay was a proposal to improve learning in elementary and secondary schools by separating the government financing of education from the government administration of schools.

That proposal, which launched the modern school choice movement, was a radical departure from the prevailing ideology of the time. It ran counter to the growing power of the teachers' unions and presented a vision of parental liberty and responsibility at odds with the educational establishment, which was putting the final touches on centralizing the systems that taxed and operated schools and institutionalizing the educational theories of John Dewey and others.

In the 50 years since Friedman posed the idea, educational choice has been a hotly debated topic. The idea and the policy proposals it has generated have been criticized on many levels, and supporters of educational choice have run headlong into a long-term battle against a well-funded educational establishment with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Meanwhile, much has changed in education and society since 1955. Dissatisfaction with school performance has grown, ambitious efforts to reform education have met with little success, and American schools have been largely unable to respond to economic and technological forces that demand new cognitive and technical skills from the next generation of citizens.

It is in this context that we decided the time was right for a critical reassessment of the progress and prospects of educational choice as the key ingredient of meaningful educational reform. We wondered whether Milton Friedman's 50-year-old vision of educational liberty was still relevant in today's society, and if it is, why it hadn't swept like wildfire across America. To help us answer those questions, we . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.