Sweden’s Voucher Program Part 7

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Milton Friedman’s film series “Free to Choose” Episode on Education part 5. It was Friedman’s voucher plan that was put into practice in Sweden in 1993.

I read an excellent article called “School Choice in Sweden: An Interview with Thomas Idergard of Timbro,” (March 8, 2010) by Dan Lips and I wanted to share some of his answers with you below:

DL: What do parents and students think of the voucher system?
TI: On a general level, most parents and students don’t specifically choose between one independent and one public school—people tend to choose the schools that fit their needs and requirements best, regardless of whether they are independent or public. In all cities and municipalities with widespread opportunities to choose, parents and students are more and more active in comparing different schools out of a wide range of quality and personal variables. This was also the main point in establishing an education market: People are different and have different needs and ways to reach their goals.
But when you ask people about their satisfaction with their choice or with their school as a whole, you can see that the independent schools outperform the public schools quite massively.
The latest national survey on parental satisfaction was undertaken in October 2009 and showed that parents with their children in independent schools are much more satisfied than parents with their children in public schools regarding all surveyed areas—such as, for example:
  • The school’s closeness to the parents’ “ideal school” ;
  • The stimulation and support of every single student;
  • The level of resources that are being spent on education, teacher engagement, the quality of teaching materials, information, and cooperation with parents;  and
  • The sense of value of taxpayer money spent on education and trust for school management.
For every surveyed area there is at least a 10 percent higher satisfaction rate among independent school parents!
And regarding the voucher system itself, different surveys show that a majority of people view the right to choose school as almost a “natural” right. Some technical details might still be controversial among politicians (such as aspects of the profit-dividend issue), but among ordinary people, the right to choose is well rooted.
A clear majority of all parents, no matter if their kids go to independent or public schools, agree on that the independent school owners have right to show profits and to dispose of them at their own discretion!
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