Mr. Friedman: It is an interesting thing, if you look at the facts, the one area, the area in which the low-income people of this country, the blacks and the minority, are most disadvantaged is with respect with the kinds of schools they can send their children to…Everybody agrees that the schools in those areas are the worst. They are poor. Yet, here you have a Democrat who allege their interest is to help the poor and the low-income people. Here you have to take a different point. Every poll has shown that the strongest supporters of vouchers are the low-income blacks, and yet hardly a single black leader has been willing to come out for vouchers! (Georgia General Assembly member Mesha Mainor is an exception!!!)

Milton Friedman – Public Schools / Voucher System – Failures in Educatio…

Milton Friedman – Educational Vouchers

Milton Friedman: It is an interesting thing, if you look at the facts, the one area, the area in which the low-income people of this country, the blacks and the minority, are most disadvantaged is with respect with the kinds of schools they can send their children to. The people who live in Harlem or the slums or the corresponding areas in LA or San Francisco, they can go to the same stores, shop in the same stores everybody else can, they can buy the same automobiles, they can go to supermarket, but they have very limited choice of schools. Everybody agrees that the schools in those areas are the worst. They are poor. Yet, here you have a Democrat who allege their interest is to help the poor and the low-income people. Here you have to take a different point. Every poll has shown that the strongest supporters of vouchers are the low-income blacks, and yet hardly a single black leader has been willing to come out for vouchers. There were some exceptions, Paul Williams in Milwaukee who was responsible for that, and a few others.

Georgia Democrat stands alone in state party in supporting school choice, calls her critics hypocritical

‘Why is no one fighting for young Black minds?’ Georgia State Rep. Mesha Mainor asks

By David Rutz ,  Brian Flood | Fox News

EXCLUSIVE – A Democrat in the Georgia General Assembly who angered her party by supporting a recent school choice bill says fellow progressives are hypocritically abandoning some of the state’s most vulnerable people.

“Why is no one fighting for young Black minds? Why isn’t that one of the things that we’re fighting for?” State Rep. Mesha Mainor said, adding, “I actually say you’re a hypocrite. That’s what I tell them directly. You are being a hypocrite. There are state lawmakers right now where their children are in schools that they’re not even zoned for… They’re lying about their address, state lawmakers, but they won’t vote for this bill.”

Mainor’s deep-blue 56th House district stretches from southwest Atlanta up into the Midtown area and includes schools in dire need of improvement. Asked why she supported the school choice bill that ultimately didn’t pass, she responded she prefers the term “parent choice.”

“I support parent choice because some parents have children in schools where their needs are not being met,” she told Fox News Digital. “In my district in particular, we have schools with 3% reading proficiency, 3% have obtained math proficiency by the eighth grade. And so to say that this is just how it is and that the kid needs to just suffer these consequences, I don’t agree with that. And I don’t think that all parents agree with that either.”

Georgia General Assembly member Mesha Mainor, D., discusses why she calls school choice “parent choice” and how she has bucked her party to support vouchers for students at underperforming schools.(Fox News Digital)

School choice has been a subject of intense debate for years, with teachers union-backed Democrats often fiercely opposing such measures as siphoning funding from public schools. Proponents say parents and children deserve opportunities for the best education and shouldn’t be punished for living in poorly performing districts. 

School choice advocates also support expansion of charter schools, which have grown greatly in Georgia in recent years and many of which count minority students as a majority of their enrollments. Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are independently run and include students who aren’t in the immediate area; teachers unions often oppose them as well since their teachers generally aren’t unionized.

“We should be voting at times just for our district and at times for the entire state of Georgia,” Mainor said.

The bill that would have expanded opportunities for students who attend Georgia’s lowest-rated schools was surprisingly shot down last month due to opposition from some rural Republicans.

Georgia Senate Bill 233 would have created $6,500-vouchers for students at schools performing in the bottom-25 percent in the state, to help pay for private school tuition and homeschooling expenses if they were inclined. Gov. Brian Kemp, R., pushed for it, and it appeared to have the votes to pass under the Republican-controlled Golden Dome, until 16 House Republicans voted it down.

It’s not dead yet, as it could still be brought for a vote at a later time. Any political battles in Georgia now attract outsized attention, given the state’s battleground status in presidential elections.

Georgia welcome sign

Georgia has emerged as one of the country’s top battleground states.(Charlie Creitz/Fox News)

Opponents of the bill said the vouchers would hurt local public school systems needing additional funding, particularly those in poorer communities. The state planned to deduct public schools’ funding for each student that takes their education dollars elsewhere.

The move was “so unexpected… that Democrats broke decorum and cheered its failure from the chamber’s floor,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported

Mainor was the only Democrat who voted for it, and her fellow party members let her hear about it. A Democrat in the State Senate, Josh McLaurin, offered $1,000 to anyone who would primary her. State Rep. Michelle Au, D., linked to an AJC article about Mainor facing a primary challenge and wrote, “This is about floridly whipping votes in favor of a harmful bill we took a CAUCUS POSITION AGAINST.” 

McLaurin represents Sandy Springs, an affluent city known for its array of corporate headquarters in north Fulton County. Mainor retorted that he doesn’t have children, represents a district with thriving schools and has “no idea of what it means to live in a poverty-stricken community with no resources, with no hope.”

“To me, it’s ludicrous,” she said. “I think my fellow Democrats – and not all of them, I hate to say that because it’s not all of them – some of my colleagues will march in the streets for abortion rights. I’m pro-choice. They were crying on the floor for transgender rights. They were very outspoken about anti-Semitism. My problem is, why is no one fighting for young Black minds?…  And so to say that all these other issues are important, but a child living in poverty that’s of color is at the bottom of your totem pole of priorities, that’s a problem with the value system if you ask me.”

“I can only assume it’s because poor Black children are not their priority,” she added. “Let’s put it like that. Until the Democratic Party wants to put poor Black children as a priority, then State Representative Mesha Mainor will continue to vote against them when it comes to these educational needs.”


Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp supported a school choice bill in March that surprisingly didn’t pass. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Fox News Digital reached out to McLaurin for comment.

She also said it was “absolutely the truth” that Democrats are afraid of running afoul of powerful teachers unions; the Georgia Federation of Teachers has made removing Mainor from office a pet project. 

“Teachers don’t necessarily agree with what the teachers union supports, because guess what? Teachers have children in failing schools. Teachers have children that have special needs that benefit from these services. So I think the teachers union is actually out of touch with their own constituency,” Mainor said.

Her constituents, she says, don’t care if she votes on a straight party line, but instead thank her for keeping their needs in mind. Born and raised in Atlanta, Mainor said her mother used someone else’s address, so her daughter could attend one of the better public high schools in the city.

She also disagreed with the notion that more money needs to be put into public schools, but instead there needed to be more responsible fiscal governance from local boards.

“I don’t think throwing money at a system that’s not working is the answer. I think going in and looking at how the money is spent is what needs to be done first,” she said.

Axios reported Mainor has voted with Republicans on other major issues since she took office in 2021, including a ban on localities lowering police budgets and a controversial oversight board for prosecutors.

atlanta police car on fire

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire after an Atlanta police vehicle was set on fire during a “Stop cop city” protest in Atlanta, Georgia, United States on January 21, 2023.  (Benjamin Hendren/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A physical therapist who is also pursuing a doctorate in business administration, Mainor said her Christian faith helped guide her to run for office, pointing in part to Priscilla Shirer’s book, “Discerning the Voice of God.” She is a single mother with two children, one of whom is about to head to college.

“I’m not a part of anybody’s system. I’m not part of anybody’s ‘in’ crowd,” she said. “God said to run, and so we’re going to run. And I won… The moment I hear I need to get out, I will get out.”

The Georgia State Department of Education recently identified 175 low-performing schools in need of additional support, with issues like poor graduation rates and falling behind on key skills. All of them are Title 1-schools, meaning at least 40% of the student body comes from low-income families, GPB reported.


Fox News’ Landon Mion contributed to this report.

Arkansas’ Sanders Signs Ambitious Education Reform Agenda of School Choice, Anti-Indoctrination

Jason Bedrick  @JasonBedrick / March 09, 2023

Arkansas’ new governor, Sarah Sanders, on Wednesday signed into state law a major education-reform initiative. Pictured: Then still a candidate for governor, Sanders addresses the America First Policy Institute Agenda Summit in Washington last July 26. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)


Jason Bedrick@JasonBedrick

Jason Bedrick is a research fellow with The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday signed into law what she called “the largest overhaul of the state’s education system in Arkansas history.”

The “Arkansas LEARNS” initiative is an ambitious reform agenda that expands school choice, modernizes school transportation, restructures teacher compensation to pay more for performance, provides supplemental education for struggling students, and prohibits Arkansas public schools from indoctrinating students. 

“We’ve seen how the status quo condemns Arkansans to a lifetime of poverty, and we’re tired of sitting at the bottom of national education rankings,” Sanders said. “We know that if we don’t plant this seed today, then there will be nothing for our kids to reap down the line.”

Perhaps the boldest component of the initiative is the creation of Educational Freedom Accounts, which are similar to education savings account (ESA) policies in 11 other states. With an ESA, families can pay for private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, homeschool curriculums, online learning, special-needs therapy, and more. ESAs empower families to choose the learning environments that align with their values and best meet their children’s individual learning needs.

Eligibility for the ESAs phases in over three years. In the third year of the ESA program’s operation, all K-12 students will be eligible. In the first year of the ESA program (the 2023-24 academic year), all incoming kindergarten students in Arkansas will be eligible. So will students with disabilities, homeless students, children in foster care, the children of active-duty military personnel, students assigned to low-performing district schools, or children enrolled in one of Arkansas’s other school choice programs.

According to a recent Morning Consult survey, 7 in 10 Arkansans support an ESA policy. Support is even higher among parents of school-aged children, 78% of whom support ESAs.

The Arkansas LEARNS initiative will significantly improve the state’s national standing on education issues. Last year, Arkansas ranked No. 18 in the nation for education choice on The Heritage Foundation’s Education Freedom Report Card. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

The enactment of a universal ESA would have boosted Arkansas to No. 5 in the nation, assuming other states’ policies remained constant. Of course, competition for the top five will be fierce as states such as Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas are also considering adopting universal education choice policies.

Arkansas’ initiative also takes important steps to protect school students from being exposed to indoctrination or discrimination.

The law requires the Arkansas Department of Education to review its “rules, policies, materials, and communications” to ensure that they are in compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and do not “conflict with the principle of equal protection under the law or encourage students to discriminate against someone based on the individual’s color, creed, race, ethnicity, sex, age, marital status, familial status, disability, religion, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by federal or state law.”

The law also prohibits school faculty and staff or guest speakers from compelling students to “adopt, affirm, or profess an idea in violation” of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, such as that people of one race or ethnicity are inherently superior or inferior to anyone else, or that individuals should “be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s color, creed, race, ethnicity, sex” or other characteristics protected by law.

The statute makes clear that it does not prohibit the discussion of ideas and or the teaching of history.

Students in Arkansas will still learn about the ugly aspects of American history, such as slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow. However, the law will appropriately prohibit lessons that divide students into “oppressors” or “oppressed,” based solely on skin color or that associate certain traits with particular skin colors.

As Tony Kinnett recently reported in The Daily Signal, there are recorded instances of such lessons in critical race theory in Arkansas classrooms, despite the best efforts of mainstream media outlets to deny it.

With the enactment of the Arkansas LEARNS initiative, Sanders has raised the bar for conservative education reform. Arkansas will now be among the top states that empower families to choose the learning environments that work best for their kids.

Arkansas has also taken an important step to ensure that traditional public schools are focused on education, not indoctrination.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

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JANUARY 27, 2023 3:28PM

Friday Feature: School Choice Milestones

By Colleen Hroncich


As we wrap up our National School Choice Week look at the history of school choice, I’m going to explore some notable milestones in the U.S. over the years. For more in‐​depth coverage, be sure to check out our new School Choice Timeline.

When we talk about school choice, we generally mean a program where public funding follows students to nonpublic schools. This becomes particularly important after the mid‐​1800s, when state governments began to mandate taxpayers fund and children attend specific schools established and run by local government entities. Prior to that, education was typically a private or local concern—the domain of parents or small communities.

The oldest school choice program in the U.S. is Vermont’s town tuitioning program. Vermont’s founding constitution, adopted in 1777, required the legislature to establish a school in each town. As the state grew and the population became more dispersed, some towns could not support a public school. In 1869, the legislature passed a law allowing students from a town without a public school to attend any public or private school in or outside of Vermont, with the sending town paying the receiving school’s tuition. Originally, parents could choose religious private schools, but that option was removed by the state’s supreme court in 1961. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Carson v. Makin overturned a similar ban on religious schools in Maine’s town tuitioning program. In response, the Vermont Secretary of Education notified superintendents that “School districts may not deny tuition payments to religious” schools that otherwise meet the criteria for the program.

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, created in 1990, is the country’s first modern private school choice program. Right in line with Milton Friedman’s 1955 idea for a tuition voucher, the program offers private school vouchers to low‐ and middle‐​income families who live in Milwaukee. In its first year, 341 students used vouchers to attend seven private schools in the city. This year, 129 schools in the metro Milwaukee area are participating in the program, enrolling nearly 29,000 students. The value of the voucher increases when state aid to school districts increases. Today there are 26 voucher programs running in 15 states plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico.

Arizona introduced the Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program, the nation’s first tax credit scholarship, in 1997. It provides tax credits to individuals who donate to school tuition organizations that provide scholarships for private school tuition. While the tax credits are worth 100% of the donation, they’re capped at $611 per donor. There is no cap on scholarship values, students can receive multiple scholarships, and every K–12 student in the state is eligible to participate in the program. There are now 26 tax credit scholarship programs in 21 states.

While I’ve long known that Milton Friedman is considered the father of school vouchers, I only recently learned he later suggested “partial vouchers”—which sound a lot like education savings accounts (ESAs). Here’s how he described them in a 2006 EducationNext interview:

Moreover, there’s no reason to expect that the future market will have the shape or form that our present market has. How do we know how education will develop? Why is it sensible for a child to get all his or her schooling in one brick building? Why not add partial vouchers? Why not let them spend part of a voucher for math in one place and English or science somewhere else? Why should schooling have to be in one building? Why can’t a student take some lessons at home, especially now, with the availability of the Internet? Right now, as a matter of fact, one of the biggest growth areas has been home schooling. There are more children being home schooled than there are in all of the voucher programs combined. 

Friedman’s words proved prophetic when Arizona created the nation’s first ESA in 2011: the Empowerment Scholarship Account program. Originally limited to students with special needs, the program allows parents who opt out of public school to receive a portion of state education funding in an account that can be used for a variety of approved educational purchases—like private school tuition, tutoring, or education therapies.

Other states adopted similar ESAs that were restricted to various populations (students with special needs, military families, economically disadvantaged families, children assigned to low‐​performing public schools, etc.). In 2021, West Virginia made a huge jump forward with Hope Scholarships, an ESA that’s open to every child in public schools (93% of kids in the state). Last year, Arizona re‐​claimed the ESA crown by becoming the first state with universal eligibility. Already this year, Iowahas joined the universal ESA club and Utahis on the verge. Other states are poised to follow suit. After decades of baby steps, universal school choice is on the march.

Our coverage this week—Neal’s introductory post, my look at Milton Friedman, Neal’s exploration of religion and school choice, and my piece on school choice and the courts—has been designed to highlight Cato’s new School Choice Timeline. There are a lot of misconceptions about the origins and goals of school choice. We hope the timeline adds clarity to conversations around school choice so it can be debated on its merits rather than with false attacks about its origins.

Censorship, School Libraries, Democracy, and Choice

A big advantage of living in a constitutional republicis that individual rights are protected from “tyranny of the majority.”

  • Assuming courts are doing their job, it doesn’t matterif 90 percent of voters support restrictions on free speech.
  • Assuming courts are doing their job, it doesn’t matter if 90 percent of voters support gun confiscation.
  • Assuming courts are doing their job, it doesn’t matter if 90 percent of voters support warrantless searches.

That being said, a constitutional republic is a democratic form of government. And if government is staying within proper boundaries, political decisions should be based on majority rule, as expressed through elections.

In some cases, that will lead to decisions I don’t like. For instance, the (tragic) 16th Amendment gives the federal government the authority to impose an income tax and voters repeatedly have elected politicians who have opted to exercise that authority.

Needless to say, I will continue my efforts to educate voters and lawmakers in hopes that eventually there will be majorities that choose a different approach. That’s how things should work in a properly functioning democracy.

But not everyone agrees.

report in the New York Times, authored by Elizabeth Harris and Alexandra Alter, discusses the controversy over which books should be in the libraries of government schools.

The Keller Independent School District, just outside of Dallas, passed a new rule in November: It banned books from its libraries that include the concept of gender fluidity. …recently, the issue has been supercharged by a rapidly growing and increasingly influential constellation of conservative groups.The organizations frequently describe themselves as defending parental rights. …“This is not about banning books, it’s about protecting the innocence of our children,” said Keith Flaugh, one of the founders of Florida Citizens Alliance, a conservative group focused on education… The restrictions, said Emerson Sykes, a First Amendment litigator for the American Civil Liberties Union, infringe on students’ “right to access a broad range of material without political censorship.” …In Florida, parents who oppose book banning formed the Freedom to Read Project.

As indicated by the excerpt, some people are very sloppy with language.

If a school decides not to buy a certain book for its library, that is not a “book ban.” Censorship only exists when the government uses coercion to prevent people from buying books with their own money.

As I wrote earlier this year, “The fight is not over which books to ban. It’s about which books to buy.”

And this brings us back to the issue of democracy.

School libraries obviously don’t have the space or funds to stock every book ever published, so somebody has to make choices. And voters have the ultimate power to make those choices since they elect school boards.

I’ll close by noting that democracy does not please everyone. Left-leaning parents in Alabama probably don’t always like the decisions of their school boards,just like right-leaning parents in Vermont presumably don’t always like the decisions of their school boards.

And the same thing happens with other contentious issues, such as teaching critical race theory.

Which is why school choice is the best outcome. Then, regardless of ideology, parents can choose schools that have the curriculum (and books) that they think will be best for their children.

P.S. If you want to peruse a genuine example of censorship, click here.

More Academic Evidence for School Choice

Since teacher unions care more about lining their pockets and protecting their privileges rather than improving education, I’ll never feel any empathy for bosses like Randi Weingarten.

That being said, the past couple of years have been bad news for Ms Weingarten and her cronies.

Not only is school choice spreading – especially in states such as Arizona and West Virginia, but we also are getting more and more evidence that competition produces better results for schoolkids.

In a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Professors David N. Figlio, Cassandra M.D. Hart & Krzysztof Karbownikfound that school choice led to benefits even for kids who remained stuck in government schools.

They enjoyed better academic outcomes, which is somewhat surprising, but even I was pleasantly shocked to see improved behavioral outcomes as well.

School choice programs have been growing in the United States and worldwide over the past two decades, and thus there is considerable interest in how these policies affect students remaining in public schools. …the evidence on the effects of these programs as they scale up is virtually non-existent. Here, we investigate this question using data from the state of Florida where, over the course of our sample period, the voucher program participation increased nearly seven-fold.We find consistent evidence that as the program grows in size, students in public schools that faced higher competitive pressure levels see greater gains from the program expansion than do those in locations with less competitive pressure. Importantly, we find that these positive externalities extend to behavioral outcomes— absenteeism and suspensions—that have not been well-explored in prior literature on school choice from either voucher or charter programs. Our preferred competition measure, the Competitive Pressure Index, produces estimates implying that a 10 percent increase in the number of students participating in the voucher program increases test scores by 0.3 to 0.7 percent of a standard deviation and reduces behavioral problems by 0.6 to 0.9 percent. …Finally, we find that public school students who are most positively affected come from comparatively lower socioeconomic background, which is the set of students that schools should be most concerned about losing under the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program.

It’s good news that competition from the private sector produces better results in government schools.

But it’s great news that those from disadvantaged backgrounds disproportionately benefit when there is more school choice.

Wonkier readers will enjoy Figure A2, which shows the benefits to regular kids on the right and disadvantaged kids on the left.

Since the study looked at results in Florida, I’ll close by observing that Florida is ranked #1 for education freedom and ranked #3 for school choice.

P.S. Here’s a video explaining the benefits of school choice.

P.P.S. There’s international evidence from SwedenChileCanada, and the Netherlands, all of which shows superior results when competition replaces government education monopolies.


Portrait of Milton Friedman.jpg

Milton Friedman chose the emphasis on school choice and school vouchers as his greatest legacy and hopefully the Supreme Court will help that dream see a chance!

Educational Choice, the Supreme Court, and a Level Playing Field for Religious Schools

The case for school choice is very straightforward.

The good news is that there was a lot of pro-choice reform in 2021.

West Virginia adopted a statewide system that is based on parental choice. And many other states expanded choice-based programs.

But 2022 may be a good year as well. That’s because the Supreme Court is considering whether to strike down state laws that restrict choice by discriminating against religious schools.

Michael Bindas of the Institute for Justice and Walter Womack of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference make the case for a level playing field in a column for the New York Times.

In 2002, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution allows school choice programs to include schools that provide religious instruction, so long as the voucher program also offers secular options. The question now before the court is whether a state may nevertheless exclude schools that provide religious instruction. The case, Carson v. Makin, …concerns Maine’s tuition assistance program. In that large and sparsely populated state, over half of the school districts have no public high schools. If a student lives in such a district, and it does not contract with another high school to educate its students, then the district must pay tuition for the student to attend the school of her or his parents’ choice. …But one type of school is off limits: a school that provides religious instruction. That may seem unconstitutional, and we argue that it is. Only last year, the Supreme Court, citing the free exercise clause of the Constitution, held that states cannot bar students in a school choice program from selecting religious schools when it allows them to choose other private schools. …The outcome will be enormously consequential for families in public schools that are failing them and will go a long way toward determining whether the most disadvantaged families can exercise the same control over the education of their children as wealthier citizens.

The Wall Street Journal editorialized on this issue earlier this week.

Maine has one of the country’s oldest educational choice systems, a tuition program for students who live in areas that don’t run schools of their own. Instead these families get to pick a school, and public funds go toward enrollment. Religious schools are excluded, however, and on Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear from parents who have closely read the First Amendment.…Maine argues it isn’t denying funds based on the religious “status” of any school… The state claims, rather, that it is merely refusing to allocate money for a “religious use,” specifically, “an education designed to proselytize and inculcate children with a particular faith.” In practice, this distinction between “status” and “use” falls apart. Think about it: Maine is happy to fund tuition at an evangelical school, as long as nothing evangelical is taught. Hmmm. …A state can’t subsidize tuition only for private schools with government-approved values, and trying to define the product as “secular education” gives away the game. …America’s Founders knew what they were doing when they wrote the First Amendment to protect religious “free exercise.”

What does the other side say?

Rachel Laser, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, doesn’t want religious schools to be treated equally under school choice programs.

Here’s some of her column in the Washington Post.

…two sets of parents in Maine claim that the Constitution’s promise of religious freedom actually requires the state to fund religious education at private schools with taxpayer dollars — as a substitute for public education. This interpretation flips the meaning of religious freedom on its head and threatens both true religious freedom and public education.…The problem here is even bigger than public funds paying for praying, as wrong as that is. Unlike public schools, private religious schools often do not honor civil rights protections, especially for LGBTQ people, women, students with disabilities, religious minorities and the nonreligious. …If the court were to agree with the parents, it would also be rejecting the will of three-quarters of the states, which long ago enacted clauses in their state constitutions and passed statutes specifically prohibiting public funding of religious education. …It is up to parents and religious communities to educate their children in their faith. Publicly funded schools should never serve that purpose.

These arguments are not persuasive.

The fact that many state constitutions include so-called Blaine amendments actually undermines her argument since those provisions were motivated by a desire to discriminate against parochial schools that provided education to Catholic immigrants.

And it’s definitely not clear why school choice shouldn’t include religious schools that follow religious teachings, unless she also wants to argue that student grants and loans shouldn’t go to students at Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Liberty, and other religiously affiliated colleges.

The good news is that Ms. Laser’s arguments don’t seem to be winning. Based on this report from yesterday’s Washington Post, authored by Robert Barnes, there are reasons to believe the Justices will make the right decision.

Conservatives on the Supreme Court seemed…critical of a Maine tuition program that does not allow public funds to go to schools that promote religious instruction. The case involves an unusual program in a small state that affects only a few thousand students. But it could have greater implications… The oral argument went on for nearly two hours and featured an array of hypotheticals. …But the session ended as most suspected it would, with the three liberal justices expressing support for Maine and the six conservatives skeptical that it protected religious parents from unconstitutional discrimination.

I can’t resist sharing this additional excerpt about President Biden deciding to side with teacher unions instead of students.

The Justice Department switched its position in the case after President Biden was inaugurated and now supports Maine.

But let’s not dwell on Biden’s hackery (especially since that’s a common affliction on the left).

Instead, let’s close with some uplifting thoughts about what might happen if we get a good decision from the Supreme Court when decisions are announced next year.

Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but I think we’re getting close to a tipping point. As more and more states and communities shift to choice, we will have more and more evidence that it’s a win-win for both families and taxpayers.

Which will lead to more choice programs, which will produce more helpful data.

Lather, rinse, repeat. No wonder the (hypocriticalteacher unionsare so desperate to stop progress.

P.S. There’s strong evidence for school choice from nations such as SwedenChile, and the Netherlands.

Free To Choose 1980 – Vol. 06 What’s Wrong with Our Schools? – Full Video

Why Milton Friedman Saw School Choice as a First Step, Not a Final One

On his birthday, let’s celebrate Milton Friedman’s vision of enabling parents, not government, to be in control of a child’s education.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Kerry McDonald
Kerry McDonald

EducationMilton FriedmanSchool ChoiceSchooling

Libertarians and others are often torn about school choice. They may wish to see the government schooling monopoly weakened, but they may resist supporting choice mechanisms, like vouchers and education savings accounts, because they don’t go far enough. Indeed, most current choice programs continue to rely on taxpayer funding of education and don’t address the underlying compulsory nature of elementary and secondary schooling.

Skeptics may also have legitimate fears that taxpayer-funded education choice programs will lead to over-regulation of previously independent and parochial schooling options, making all schooling mirror compulsory mass schooling, with no substantive variation.

Milton Friedman had these same concerns. The Nobel prize-winning economist is widely considered to be the one to popularize the idea of vouchers and school choice beginning with his 1955 paper, “The Role of Government in Education.” His vision continues to be realized through the important work of EdChoice, formerly the Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, that Friedman and his economist wife, Rose, founded in 1996.

July 31 is Milton Friedman’s birthday. He died in 2006 at the age of 94, but his ideas continue to have an impact, particularly in education policy.

Friedman saw vouchers and other choice programs as half-measures. He recognized the larger problems of taxpayer funding and compulsion, but saw vouchers as an important starting point in allowing parents to regain control of their children’s education. In their popular book, Free To Choose, first published in 1980, the Friedmans wrote:

We regard the voucher plan as a partial solution because it affects neither the financing of schooling nor the compulsory attendance laws. We favor going much farther. (p.161)

They continued:

The compulsory attendance laws are the justification for government control over the standards of private schools. But it is far from clear that there is any justification for the compulsory attendance laws themselves. (p. 162)

The Friedmans admitted that their “own views on this have changed over time,” as they realized that “compulsory attendance at schools is not necessary to achieve that minimum standard of literacy and knowledge,” and that “schooling was well-nigh universal in the United States before either compulsory attendance or government financing of schooling existed. Like most laws, compulsory attendance laws have costs as well as benefits. We no longer believe the benefits justify the costs.” (pp. 162-3)

Still, they felt that vouchers would be the essential starting point toward chipping away at monopoly mass schooling by putting parents back in charge. School choice, in other words, would be a necessary but not sufficient policy approach toward addressing the underlying issue of government control of education.

In their book, the Friedmans presented the potential outcomes of their proposed voucher plan, which would give parents access to some or all of the average per-pupil expenditures of a child enrolled in public school. They believed that vouchers would help create a more competitive education market, encouraging education entrepreneurship. They felt that parents would be more empowered with greater control over their children’s education and have a stronger desire to contribute some of their own money toward education. They asserted that in many places “the public school has fostered residential stratification, by tying the kind and cost of schooling to residential location” and suggested that voucher programs would lead to increased integration and heterogeneity. (pp. 166-7)

To the critics who said, and still say, that school choice programs would destroy the public schools, the Friedmans replied that these critics fail to

explain why, if the public school system is doing such a splendid job, it needs to fear competition from nongovernmental, competitive schools or, if it isn’t, why anyone should object to its “destruction.” (p. 170)

What I appreciate most about the Friedmans discussion of vouchers and the promise of school choice is their unrelenting support of parents. They believed that parents, not government bureaucrats and intellectuals, know what is best for their children’s education and well-being and are fully capable of choosing wisely for their children—when they have the opportunity to do so.

They wrote:

Parents generally have both greater interest in their children’s schooling and more intimate knowledge of their capacities and needs than anyone else. Social reformers, and educational reformers in particular, often self-righteously take for granted that parents, especially those who are poor and have little education themselves, have little interest in their children’s education and no competence to choose for them. That is a gratuitous insult. Such parents have frequently had limited opportunity to choose. However, U.S. history has demonstrated that, given the opportunity, they have often been willing to sacrifice a great deal, and have done so wisely, for their children’s welfare. (p. 160).

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Today, school voucher programs exist in 15 states plus the District of Columbia. These programs have consistently shown that when parents are given the choice to opt-out of an assigned district school, many will take advantage of the opportunity. In Washington, D.C., low-income parents who win a voucher lottery send their children to private schools.

The most recent three-year federal evaluationof voucher program participants found that while student academic achievement was comparable to achievement for non-voucher students remaining in public schools, there were statistically significant improvements in other important areas. For instance, voucher participants had lower rates of chronic absenteeism than the control groups, as well as higher student satisfaction scores. There were also tremendous cost-savings.

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has served over 28,000 low-income students attending 129 participating private schools.

According to Corey DeAngelis, Director of School Choice at the Reason Foundation and a prolific researcher on the topic, the recent analysis of the D.C. voucher program “reveals that private schools produce the same academic outcomes for only a third of the cost of the public schools. In other words, school choice is a great investment.”

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was created in 1990 and is the nation’s oldest voucher program. It currently serves over 28,000 low-income students attending 129 participating private schools. Like the D.C. voucher program, data on test scores of Milwaukee voucher students show similar results to public school students, but non-academic results are promising.

Recent research found voucher recipients had lower crime rates and lower incidences of unplanned pregnancies in young adulthood. On his birthday, let’s celebrate Milton Friedman’s vision of enabling parents, not government, to be in control of a child’s education.

According to Howard Fuller, an education professor at Marquette University, founder of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, and one of the developers of the Milwaukee voucher program, the key is parent empowerment—particularly for low-income minority families.

In an interview with NPR, Fuller said: “What I’m saying to you is that there are thousands of black children whose lives are much better today because of the Milwaukee parental choice program,” he says. 
“They were able to access better schools than they would have without a voucher.”

Putting parents back in charge of their child’s education through school choice measures was Milton Friedman’s goal. It was not his ultimate goal, as it would not fully address the funding and compulsion components of government schooling; but it was, and remains, an important first step. As the Friedmans wrote in Free To Choose:

The strong American tradition of voluntary action has provided many excellent examples that demonstrate what can be done when parents have greater choice. (p. 159).

On his birthday, let’s celebrate Milton Friedman’s vision of enabling parents, not government, to be in control of a child’s education.

Kerry McDonald

Milton Friedman

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