School choice as economic freedom

In response to my article today in the Royal Gazette, a reader points me to an excellent article which makes the Milton Friedman free market case for school choice:

In the last 10 years of his 94-year life, Friedman and his wife, Rose, dedicated themselves to school choice. They viewed school choice as a companion to economic freedom. Through the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation they enthusiastically promoted school choice as a means of liberating the poor from failing government schools. Failing schools produced failing students, they reasoned, depriving children of the tools they would need to attain economic independence. 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.

Friedman did not fit the stereotype of an economic conservative. He was genuinely interested in helping the poor by giving them a choice of schools that would offer them the best opportunity to escape poverty's cycle. He noted a 1999 National Opinion Poll conducted for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in which 60 percent of minorities support vouchers and a whopping 87 percent of African-American parents ages 26 to 35 and 66.4 percent of blacks ages 18 to 25 favor them.

The main opponents of school choice are the teachers unions and white liberal politicians who receive their campaign contributions. They mostly send their children and grandchildren to private schools, while condemning minority children to poorly performing government schools. How's that for "compassion" and a commitment to helping the poor? The poor are helped to escape poverty when they get a good education. Failure to give them what has been called "the last civil right" practically ensures they will remain poor.

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