This foundation is the culmination of what has been one of our main interests for more than four decades: improvement in the quality of the education available to children of all income and social classes in this nation, whether that education is provided in government or private schools or at home.
That interest began in 1955 when we reached the conclusion that government financing of primary and secondary schooling is entirely consistent with private administration of schooling, and that such a combination is both more equitable and more efficient than the existing linkage of financing with administration.
We suggested that a way to separate financing and administration is to give parents who choose to send their children to private schools “a sum equal to the estimated cost of educating a child in a government school, provided that at least this sum was spent on education in an approved school. … The interjection of competition would do much to promote a healthy variety of schools. It would do much, also, to introduce flexibility into school systems. Not least of its benefits would be to make the salaries of school teachers responsive to market forces.”
Since then we have been involved in many attempts to introduce educational vouchers – the term that has come to designate the arrangement we proposed. There is a distressing similarity to attempts made over three decades and from coast to coast. In each case, a dedicated group of citizens makes a well thought-through proposal. It initially garners widespread public support. The educational establishment – administrators and teachers’ unions – then launches an attack that is notable for its mendacity but is backed by much larger financial resources than the proponents can command and succeeds in killing the proposal.
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. It requires also the cooperation of the many groups around the country who are devoted to improving the quality of our schools, whether governmental or private.
This foundation is our contribution to that objective.
Milton Friedman Rose D. Friedman
Nobel Laureate Noted Economist