Making parents ‘Free to Choose’ their children’s schools

“Unfortunately, in recent years our educational record has become tarnished. Parents complain about the declining quality of the schooling their children receive. Many are even more disturbed about the dangers to their children’s physical well-being. Teachers complain that the atmosphere in which they are required to teach is often not conducive to learning. Increasing numbers of teachers are fearful about their physical safety, even in the classroom. Taxpayers complain about growing costs.”

The passage goes on with even more ills Milton Friedman saw in public schools — in 1980.

The problems may sound familiar, but Friedman wasn’t seeing the future. He was, in his classic book “Free to Choose,” describing the public-schools system as it was then. Sadly, on the whole, that system has spent the last three decades consuming ever more money without significant improvement.

This Tuesday, which would have been the Nobel Prize-winning economist’s 100th birthday, will mark a possible inflection point for Georgia’s schools. It is the last day of our primary season — and thus the last day before a fall campaign begins to pass a constitutional amendment expanding choice for students, parents and teachers.

The amendment facing voters in November would restore the ability of local school reformers to get state permission to launch charter schools, publicly funded schools freed from many onerous rules that encumber teachers. They could do so until the Georgia Supreme Court last year struck down the arrangement.

Now, charter schools are subject to school boards, which often won’t cede control or money to would-be competitors.

Passing the amendment will mean local control once again extends past school boards, to parents and teachers who are more interested in results than protecting the status quo.

Though Friedman later endorsed charter schools, they were not his solution in “Free to Choose.” (They didn’t exist for another decade.) Rather, he proposed a voucher for parents to use the tax dollars allocated for their children’s education at the school of their choice. But the arguments Friedman made for vouchers apply well to school choice more broadly.

Then as now, the best public schools tended to be in wealthy suburbs, “where parental control remains very real,” with the worst in inner cities.

The tragic, ironic result, he wrote, “is that a system dedicated to … giving all children equal educational opportunity, should in practice exacerbate the stratification of society and provide highly unequal educational opportunity.”

Friedman noted the claims of many “educational reformers” that parents in poor areas have little interest or ability when it comes to making school choices for their children.

“That,” he said, “is a gratuitous insult. Such parents have frequently had limited opportunity to choose. However, U.S. history has amply demonstrated that, given the opportunity, they have often been willing to sacrifice a great deal, and have done so wisely, for their children’s welfare.”

He noted minorities ought to be the first to demand school choice, for they “would benefit most” from having choices. Instead, then as now (though this is slowly changing), for too many of them “control over schooling [is] a source of political patronage and power.”

A dearth of choices, a fear that only “bad” students would remain in traditional public schools — Friedman anticipated these and other objections. For anyone unconvinced about school choice, “Free to Choose” holds up very well.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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907 comments Add your comment

md

July 27th, 2012
6:08 pm

The “school” is not the problem……the “parent” is the problem.

The system will never function properly when a “parent” sends a child off to “school” and expects that child to come back full of education……..

The process requires involvement while that child is at school and at home.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
6:29 pm

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [smart ass] and impatient of restraint”

–Hesiod, 8th Century BC

Hillbilly D

July 27th, 2012
6:29 pm

In my opinion, until they restore discipline and focus on the 3 R’s, in the lower grades, schools are going to always be a problem.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
6:32 pm

In honor of the London Olympics, “Reach” written by Gloria Estefan for the Atlanta Games:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YG2wKnxMzjs

Hillbilly D

July 27th, 2012
6:33 pm

Greece ain’t what it was in ol’ Hesoid’s day. Maybe he had a point. ;-)

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
6:40 pm

Just my ultra-right wing opinion, of course, but I’m not convinced that it all comes down to the school. I went to one of the easiest High Schools in the country, yet became a National Merit Scholar and was accepted into one of the hardest colleges in the world, Harvey Mudd College. Where there’s a will, there’s a way…….

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
6:42 pm

LOL @ HD’s 6:33.

Did you ever watch the movie “The Principal” with James Belushi?? Classic.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
6:47 pm

From the 1988 Olympics, here’s Whitney Houston singing “One Moment In Time”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96aAx0kxVSA

I guess you guys can tell that I love the Olympics.

Hillbilly D

July 27th, 2012
6:49 pm

Never saw the Belushi movie.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
7:00 pm

From Bryan Adams for the 2008 Winter Paralympics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNTewOvkYpo

I had a great time at the 1996 Paralympics. Jerry Lee Lewis performed among others.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
7:01 pm

Here’s Aretha Franklin from the 1996 Paralympics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqPmaKWyZlk

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 27th, 2012
7:02 pm

Clear out the liberals and see how much smarter our children become.

Unless, of course, you think playing name that grievance is “smart.”

F. Sinkwich

July 27th, 2012
7:07 pm

Kyle, you seem like a really nice guy, but you are woefully inadequate as a “30 something conservative” voice for those of us who are extremely concerned about the direction of our wonderful country.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the recent economic news:

“WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.5 percent from April through June, as Americans cut back sharply on spending. The slowdown in growth adds to worries that the economy could be stalling three years after the recession ended.”

I know, you know, the whole world knows that O’bozo celebrates our decline, and desires nothing less than we become a euro-socialist womb-to-tomb nanny state, and will continue his destructive policies with vigor should the unthinkable happen — he gets re-elected.

So what do you concern yourself with?

Some dum-a*s school thing nobody gives a sh*t about.

We need a voice against the leftie crap that Bookman spouts.

So far, you ain’t cutting it.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
7:10 pm

Sinkwich, get out your hankie for Muhammed Ali at the 1996 Olympics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmzr3tZSHxU

Ragnar Danneskjöld

July 27th, 2012
7:14 pm

Allowing parents to select a school for their children smacks of “free marketeering” – the leftists will never stand for anyone other than overlords making such micro-managerial decisions.

F. Sinkwich

July 27th, 2012
7:22 pm

That is cool, Bruno.

I love the Olympics.

Will watch a lot…

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

July 27th, 2012
7:25 pm

Schools are the root of the decline of this country, Mr. Sinkwich. The problem with this obvious solution of the government money following the student, is that the people, who need this the most, are led by the Dems to believe this is against their best interest.

The rich can already send their children to private schools. The Dems protect their friends in the NEA and sacrifice the poor children of this country on the alter of “whats best for the children as a whole”. They absolutely support the status quo and refuse to seriously discuss alternatives.They oppose any reforms that reduce the role of the union or allows choice for the poor. They want to continue to just try to polish the edges, rather than reform the system.

One of the first things Obama did as President, was to disable the voucher program, in the District of Columbia, that subsidized poor children’s private education. They believe that the government schools are the best solution for the most children. Until, the poor stand up and say, my child is important and I want what is best for my child and only my child, nothing will change.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
7:25 pm

Kyle, you seem like a really nice guy, but you are woefully inadequate as a “30 something conservative” voice

Out of curiosity, what year were you born, Sink?? I’m putting you in the 50 something category with me.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
7:28 pm

One of the first things Obama did as President, was to disable the voucher program, in the District of Columbia, that subsidized poor children’s private education.

One thing the DC school system proves year after year, Rafe, is that throwing money at the problem. DC perennially spends more money per pupil than any other system, yet perennially ranks near the bottom in results.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
7:29 pm

Ooops–DC proves year after year that throwing money at the problem isn’t the answer.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

July 27th, 2012
7:31 pm

Kyle, I think you do a great job, keeping this entertaining. Sinkwich is grumpy after being body slammed in the backfield again, I believe.

josef

July 27th, 2012
7:32 pm

BRUNO

St Elsewhere….

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
7:32 pm

Here’s a chart which shows spending per pupil in the US, adjusted for inflation:

http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=66

Hillbilly D

July 27th, 2012
7:34 pm

Kyle’s view aren’t always my views but I think he does a pretty good job. He seems to be interested in actual discussion. Good luck to him on that, with people like us. :lol:

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

July 27th, 2012
7:34 pm

Bruno

As someone smarter than me once remarked about the amount spent per student, it would be cheaper to have a limo pick them up and deliver them to a private school, than do what we are doing.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 27th, 2012
7:34 pm

I understand and sympathize with Sink’s position but also understand the Wingnut is probably muzzled by the Urinal.

kookman ain’t.

Hillbilly D

July 27th, 2012
7:35 pm

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
7:35 pm

In 2009, DC spent more than $16,000 per pupil, only surpassed by Wyoming, which spent an amazing $18,000 per pupil:

http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/acrossstates/Rankings.aspx?ind=5199

Must be all of those high teacher’s salaries, eh josef?? ;-)

F. Sinkwich

July 27th, 2012
7:36 pm

I agree, Rafe, but I worry about bigger things right now.

Bruno, I’m as young as I feel. This is Al Gore’s invention. I can be whatever I want to be.

F. Sinkwich

July 27th, 2012
7:41 pm

Hey, Kyle, I hear that Alpharetta passed an ordinance allowing open containers of booze be allowed within 50 feet of a church.

I think we need a blog about that.

josef

July 27th, 2012
7:44 pm

HILLBILLY

Thanks… :-)

I’ve been wanting to ask you this and have been trying to catch you. A long time ago over yonder, you posted me a video in which the story line/characters were all Indians just being people, no real reason they “had to be” Indians.,. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was and I lost the link in a computer fry…if you happen to recall it, I’d appreciate having the link…Thanks…

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

July 27th, 2012
7:44 pm

F. Sinkwich

I agree with you as well, no real solutions, to any of our pressing problems, are possible unless we replace Obama.

josef

July 27th, 2012
7:46 pm

BRUNO

I best remember I’m a guest over here and keep my opinions to myself… :-)

Hillbilly D

July 27th, 2012
7:46 pm

josef

I’ve slept since then. :lol:

Let me rack my brain and see if I can come up with something. I have a vague memory of it.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
7:47 pm

Hillbilly D

July 27th, 2012
7:48 pm

Edward

July 27th, 2012
7:49 pm

So what happens when the poor black inner-city kids choose to go to the rich, white schools in the suburbs? I wonder what kind of protests that will illicit?

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
7:52 pm

I best remember I’m a guest over here and keep my opinions to myself…

So when has that ever stopped you before, Reb??

Ronnie Raygun

July 27th, 2012
7:56 pm

Parents have always been free to choose their kids school as long as they paid for it. Now Cons think that they have a right to steal MY MONEY to send their kids to school where ever they want. Sorry, not buying it.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
8:01 pm

josef

July 27th, 2012
8:05 pm

HILLBILLY

I liked that a lot…I couldn’t find any real bio info on him…where’s he from…?

BRUNO

I’m minding my manners!

SBinF

July 27th, 2012
8:05 pm

Oh yeah, I bet the schools in wealthy suburbs will be falling over themselves to allow inner city kids in for an education….

td

July 27th, 2012
8:05 pm

Let us talk about some facts: Charter schools is a Conservative initiative as in the Constitutional Amendments Kyle spoke of, it is a Liberal initiative as in read what the Obama administration said on the subject in its Race to the top grant and it is a huge Gates foundation initiative.

I personally think they are all wrong. This is going to do nothing more then to put all the parents that care about education into one or two schools. They will be happy and real educational reform will be put on the back burner for years.

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
8:08 pm

As long as we’re dong “Ecology” rock, can’t forget this classic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl238Ja7ScQ

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
8:09 pm

BRUNO

I’m minding my manners!

Screw that, put something up. You’re nobody until you’ve been banned by at least one ajc blog……

Hillbilly D

July 27th, 2012
8:11 pm

josef

If you’re talking about the Mississippi song, he lives in NC but is originally from Mississippi.

If you’re talking about the 2nd guy, he is evidently from the NY/Philly area. He has a site.

http://www.fahadahmad.com/index2.html

Sorry but I can’t find anything on the link you were asking about. I vaguely remember it but I’ve suffered a computer meltdown since then, as well, and I can’t find anything that I have saved that’s even remotely close to it.

Hillbilly D

July 27th, 2012
8:12 pm

You’re nobody until you’ve been banned by at least one ajc blog……

I reckon that makes me a nobody. :lol:

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
8:13 pm

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot……

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94bdMSCdw20

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone

Bruno

July 27th, 2012
8:15 pm

I reckon that makes me a nobody.

I’m pretty mellow in my old age, HD. I got banned a few times from the Woman 2 Woman blog. I had to keep changing names and Internet Service Providers just to get back on. ;-)

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

July 27th, 2012
8:16 pm

Sadly, on the whole, that system has spent the last three decades consuming ever more money without significant improvement.

And the past three decades has also seen the skyboxification of our society, where privilege guarantees that not all at the game gets rained on.

You want tax dollars for your child’s education — fine send your kids to public school and get involved.

You want a choice for private education — fine pay for it yourself.