Competitive markets improve the quality and lower the cost of goods and services across the board, but most students in the U.S. education system are stuck in public schools that face little or no competitive pressure. That’s why, 60 years ago, Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman proposed bringing competitive market principles to the government provision of schooling in order to provide students with a wider array of educational options. In the decades since, many states and localities have adopted some version of Friedman’s vision.
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, an Atlas Network partner founded in 1996 by Milton and Rose D. Friedman to advance school choice options for all K–12 families, has released its 2015 edition of The ABCs of School Choice: The comprehensive guide to every private school choice program in America. This publication provides an overview of which options are available throughout the United States, from vouchers, educational savings accounts, school choice scholarships, and tuition tax credits to alternative models for schooling like charter schools, homeschooling, online learning, and private school access.
“The major objective of educational vouchers ... is to drag education out of the 19th century—where it has been mired for far too long—and into the 21st century, by introducing competition on a broad scale,” Friedman wrote in a 2000 Wall Street Journal commentary, quoted in the new edition’s introduction. “Free market competition can do for education what it has done already for other areas, such as agriculture, transportation, power, communication and, most recently, computers and the Internet. Only a truly competitive educational industry can empower the ultimate consumers of educational services—parents and their children.”