I started thinking about school choice seriously in 1992, when I wrote a long and pedantic letter to my father explaining why, whatever else was wrong with school choice, it did not fall to many of the objections that had been made. In 1994 two undergraduate students, A. J. Julius and John Cook, and two of my in-laws, Bill and Tom Glueck, persuaded me that school choice was philosophically interesting. So that summer I turned the letter into a short article. Erik Wright subsequently invited me to participate in the Real Utopias conference at the A. E. Havens Center at University of Wisconsin (UW) Madison on a paper by Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis called 'Efficient Redistribution'. My contribution to that conference was another essay on school choice, taking their own proposal as a starting point.
I have many other debts. Dan Hausman suggested that I write the book, on the grounds that not only might it be good, but it might even do some good. We'll see. His comments on, and editing of, earlier and unrelated work of mine helped improve my writing enormously, which improvement I hope has been sustained here. He and Andrew Levine provided extensive and valuable comments on various parts of the book: again, Dan's editing is much in evidence. Much of the final draft was written while I co-taught an undergraduate course on political philosophy and educational policy with Francis Schrag: his bemused support for a junior colleague who keeps innocently diving into waters that are much more treacherous than they look is much appreciated. Other colleagues and friends at UW Madison and elsewhere whose conversation or comments have been greatly valued are Richard Arneson, Brian Barry, Samuel Bowles, Shelley Burtt, Claudia Card, Noel Carroll, David Copp, Robert Goodin, Amy Hanauer, Darrel Moellendorf, Laura Osinski, Adam Swift, Peter Vallentyne, Geoff Whitty, Dan Wikler and Erik Wright. Herbert Gintis responded almost instantly and very graciously to a series of questions I posed in the last stages of writing.
Two readers at Oxford University Press provided extremely valuable comments: Eamonn Callan's generous continued correspondence with me has helped even more than the stimulus of his important book Creating Citizens. And I'm grateful to my editor, Dominic Byatt, for his help, and