Friday night topic: School choice

— 5:30 PM on October 12, 2007

Like many folks, I'm concerned about the quality of public education here in the U.S. I'm largely convinced that public education too often ends up being the typical product of a political process, managing appearances more than reality (i.e., "teaching to the test" in a standardized testing regime or assigning ridiculous amounts of too-simple homework exercises in order to appear rigorous) or catering too much to the lowest common denominator. Public schools have also become a battleground for the problem of pluralism, another politically charged distraction from the would-be business at hand.

As a result, despite the best intentions of all involved—and many teachers and administrators are definitely good people who mean well—public schools end up being less effective than they should be, sometimes despite astounding amounts of per-student funding.

Could the answer be Milton Friedman's proposal to introduce choice into public education by means of school vouchers? The idea seems counterintuitive on some levels, but so did Friedman's notion of an all-volunteer army, yet that's worked out pretty well. What do you think? Would school choice improve public education? Why or why not?


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