- School Choice
- Who We Are
- What We Do
The Friedmans’ interest in improving the American education system began in 1955. In 1996, the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice was born. In 2016, that organization became EdChoice to honor their desire to separate their last name from their enduring vision. Now, more than half of the U.S. has educational choice, but there’s still more work to do to empower every American family.
Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Economic Science, was a Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, from 1977 to 2006. He was also Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Chicago, where he taught from 1946 to 1976, and was a member of the research staff of the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1937 to 1981.
Professor Friedman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988 and received the National Medal of Science the same year. He is widely regarded as the leader of the Chicago School of monetary economics, which stresses the importance of the quantity of money as an instrument of government policy and as a determinant of business cycles and inflation.
In addition to his scientific work, Professor Friedman had also written extensively on public policy, always with primary emphasis on the preservation and extension of individual freedom. His most important books in this field are (with Rose D. Friedman) Capitalism and Freedom (University of Chicago Press, 1962); Bright Promises, Dismal Performance (Thomas Horton and Daughters, 1983), which consists mostly of reprints of tri-weekly columns that he wrote for Newsweek from 1966 to 1983; and (with Rose Friedman) Free to Choose (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), which complements a ten-part TV series of the same name, shown over PBS in early 1980, and (with Rose D. Friedman) Tyranny of the Status Quo (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), which complements a three-part TV series of the same name, shown over PBS in early 1984.
He was a member of the President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force (1969-70) and of the President’s Commission on White House Fellows (1971-73). He was a member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board, a group of experts outside the government, named in early 1981 by President Reagan.
He had also been active in public affairs, serving as an informal economic adviser to Senator Goldwater in his unsuccessful campaign for the presidency in 1964, to Richard Nixon in his successful campaign in 1968, to President Nixon subsequently, and to Ronald Reagan in his 1980 campaign.
He had published many books and articles, most notably A Theory of the Consumption Function (University of Chicago Press, 1957), The Optimum Quantity of Money and Other Essays (Aldine, 1969), and (with A. J. Schwartz) A Monetary History of the United States (Princeton University Press, 1963), Monetary Statistics of the United States (Columbia University Press, 1970), and Monetary Trends in the United States and the United Kingdom (University of Chicago Press, 1982).
Professor Friedman was a past president of the American Economic Association, the Western Economic Association, and the Mont Pelerin Society, and is a member of the American Philosophical Society and of the National Academy of Sciences.
He also had been awarded honorary degrees by universities in the United States, Japan, Israel, and Guatemala, as well as the Grand Cordon of the First Class Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Japanese government in 1986.
Friedman received a B.A. in 1932 from Rutgers University, an M.A. in 1933 from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in 1946 from Columbia University.
He and his wife established the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, for the purpose of promoting parental choice of the schools their children attend. The Foundation is based in Indianapolis and its president and chief executive officer is Robert C. Enlow.
He and his wife published their memoirs: Milton and Rose D. Friedman, Two Lucky People: Memoirs (University of Chicago Press, 1998).
On November 16, 2006, Dr. Friedman passed away at the age of 94 in San Francisco.
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.
Those of us who have long worked to promote educational choice have mixed feelings when we observe the current scene. On the one hand, sprouts of educational vouchers keep breaking through the cement of teacher union opposition all over the place — the latest possibly due to sprout in the District of Columbia as we go to press, of which more later. Legal obstacles are being steadily surmounted. Public understanding and support of educational choice soars.
“Our goal is to have a system in which every family in the U.S. will be able to choose for itself the school to which its children go. We are far from that ultimate result. If we had that – a system of free choice – we would also have a system of competition, innovation, which would change the character of education.”
“The major objective of educational vouchers is much more ambitious. It is to drag education out of the 19th century – here it has been mired for far too long – and into the 21st century, by introducing competition on a broad scale.”
All school age children are entitled to receive a voucher. The percentage of all students in private schools has risen from 10 percent to 30 percent, and the number of private schools has doubled. Who has benefited and who has lost from the adoption of the voucher program?
“A greatly improved educational system can do more than anything else to limit the harm to our social stability from a permanent and large underclass.”
“The only solution is to break the monopoly, introduce competition and give the customers alternatives.”
Education has always been a major component of the American Dream. In Puritan New England, schools were quickly established, first as an adjunct of the church, later taken over by secular authorities.
“A fable may dramatize the true source of the nation’s present discontent with our public schools: Suppose that, 50 or 75 years ago the U.S. had adopted the same institutional arrangements for the distribution of food as it did adopt for elementary and secondary schools. Suppose, that is, that the retail provision of groceries had been nationalized, that food was paid for by taxes and distributed by government-run stores.”
“This is the right way to decentralize schooling, to give parents more effective control over schools, and to open up opportunities for children in the slums.”
The general trend in our times toward increasing intervention by the state in economic affairs has led to a concentration of attention and dispute on the areas where new intervention is proposed and to an acceptance of whatever intervention has so far occurred as natural and unchangeable. The current pause, perhaps reversal, in the trend toward collectivism offers an opportunity to re-examine the existing activities of government and to make a fresh assessment of the activities that are and those that are not justified. This paper attempts such a re-examination for education.