NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Forstmann Calls For Competition In Education

September 9, 1999

Ted Forstmann -- co-founder of the Children's Scholarship Fund, which handed out scholarships to 40,000 low-income children earlier this year -- is calling for a breakup of the public school monopoly over education in the U.S.

Here are some of the arguments he advances:

  • With 90 percent of American children in public schools, there is indeed a monopoly -- and monopolies invariably produce bad products at high prices.
  • Public education wasn't established until roughly a century after the U.S. was founded, and it replaced a system characterized by diversity, competition and choice -- exactly what is needed now.
  • Rather than promoting social harmony and instilling civic values, public schools have fostered division and confrontation -- in areas ranging from curriculum choice to creationism, sex education, school prayer, religious holidays and teaching values.
  • There is no church-state separation issue involved when parents are rebated some of their education dollars so they may send their children to parochial schools if they wish.

If vouchers and choice are allowed to work, he foresees an endless array of education possibilities -- such as schools being founded by profit-making corporations, by cultural institutions such as fine arts or science museums, or by universities.

Finally, he makes the point that parents -- not politicians and bureaucrats -- are the ones fundamentally responsible for their children's education.

Source: Ted Forstmann (Children's Scholarship Fund), "Break Up the Education Monopoly," Wall Street Journal, September 9, 1999.


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