The other Milton Friedman

During his last 10 years, Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose, championed school choice as a means of liberating the poor from failing government schools, says Cal Thomas on

Friedman first proposed school vouchers in 1955, but it wasn't until 1996 that he and Rose started their foundation to take advantage of the growing interest in school choice as a means to helping the low income families – and especially minorities – escape poverty's cycle:

  • He noted a 1999 National Opinion Poll conducted for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in which 60 per cent of minorities support vouchers.

  • A whopping 87 per cent of African-American parents ages 26 to 35 and 66.4 per cent of blacks ages 18 to 25 favour them.

    Friedman believed in school choice because it was an economically viable system that benefited both students and parents:

  • Research shows that prior to receiving a voucher, the majority of participating students score well below the national average on standardised tests.

  • Statisticians and educational researchers from Harvard and the University of Houston found that choice students benefit academically from the programme, showing significant gains in both reading and mathematics by their fourth year of participation

  • According to John F. Witte, Troy D. Sterr and Christopher A. Thorn, who conducted a Milwaukee voucher study, parents are not only far more satisfied with their freely chosen private schools than they were with their former public schools, they participate more actively in their children's education now that they've made the move.

  • And as far as funds, Friedman noted, in Florida, after a school choice programme began, public schools publicised their efforts to improve by hiring more teachers, increasing funds for after-school tutoring and lowering class sizes.

    Source: Cal Thomas, The Other Milton Friedman,, November 21, 2006.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 28 November 2006
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