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October 23, 2011

More freedom for school choice

Aaron Rodriguez

In a seminal paper published in 1955, Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman envisaged a universal school choice program for parents of all economic stripes to find schools best suited to their children. Friedman argued that injecting competition into the education market would greatly expand the range of parental choice and result in higher levels of academic attainment.

Unfortunately, today's school choice programs have yet to provide a real test for Friedman's free market thesis. They are simply too encumbered with anti-competitive and anti-free market constraints meant to equalize opportunities for disadvantaged students.

Despite the constraints, some choice programs around the country have shown encouraging results. Studies in Florida, Maine, Vermont, Ohio and Wisconsin have demonstrated that the proximity of choice programs to public schools had improved public school performance.

A 2001 study done by Caroline Hoxby, an economist from Harvard University, showed that Milwaukee's choice program had improved public school performance in math, science, language and social studies. Five more studies ensued, each showing results of increased academic productivity. According to Hoxby, just the threat of introducing choice competition into school districts had provoked a marked rise in public school productivity.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at October 23, 2011 1:28 AM
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