Friedman Foundation changes name to focus on benefits of educational choice

Milton and rose
Robert C Enlow

Robert Enlow | President and CEO of EdChoice

The Friedman Foundation is changing its name, and that’s exciting.

Why is that “exciting”? Our founders, economists Milton and Rose Friedman, are globally recognized, and our brand is well known. Why wouldn’t we want to keep using the Friedman name forever?

The short answer to all of these questions is that we’re doing what our founders explicitly told us to do.

When they launched the foundation 20 years ago, Milton and Rose knew that the issue of educational choice was bigger than their name. They always wanted their foundation not to focus on them, but rather to focus on educating the public about the benefits of educational choice.

As they said in 1996, “We have concluded that the achievement of effective parental choice requires an ongoing effort to inform the public about the issues and possible solutions, an effort that is not episodic, linked to particular legislative or ballot initiatives, but that is educational.”

They also worried that their legacy foundation could potentially be pulled off course years down the road, as has happened with other foundations when neither the founders, their children, nor anyone else directly connected to them was still around to guide the work.

So, even though they strongly and publicly supported the future of our work, as well as our staff and board, they did not want their name forever attached to ideals or activities they could not control. Therefore, in consultation with the Friedmans’ children, the board and staff embarked on an effort to create a newly named organization and strategic plan that will keep the Friedmans’ vision of universal school choice at the forefront of the school choice movement.

I don’t want to undersell it; this is a big change. The Friedmans and their legacy mean so much to so many of us. Their ideas profoundly affected the world, and will continue to do so. We believe, however, that all of our progress and momentum for educational choice means that the time for half-measures is over.

Now is the right time to make an even a more aggressive push for universal school choice. We don’t just want more educational choice; we want educational choice for all families.

We have been honored to be Milton and Rose Friedman’s legacy foundation over the last 20 years, and to be the nation’s only organization solely promoting their concept of educational choice. We may be losing their name, but we will never lose their intellectual legacy. As we look to the future of educational choice, I can tell you that we are just getting started.

As we move forward, we will double down on our core competencies: educating the public; training parents and policymakers how to advocate for and implement quality choice programs; and engaging existing and new audiences about the benefits of full and unencumbered choice.

We will continue to make a vociferous case that giving all parents control over their children’s education is the best way to improve outcomes for all students. We know, as Dr. Milton Friedman once said, that the best way to drag education out of the 18th century and into the 21st is to empower all parents with educational choice.

The Friedman name will be missing from our masthead, but never from our hearts and minds as we pursue their vision. We will challenge the status quo when it treats parents like pawns. We will seek out new allies and strengthen our relationships with existing ones. And we will never, ever lose sight of the fact that school choice is a clear path to successful lives and a stronger society.

Today, we’re proud to stand behind our past successes as we announce the new name of our organization. Welcome to our next chapter. Welcome to EdChoice.