NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Friedman Contemplates The Future of Vouchers

July 2, 2002

Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman -- who launched the voucher movement decades ago -- has some new thoughts on the future of vouchers and school choice. He points to similarities between vouchers and the G.I. Bill that, he writes, "transformed higher education and provided the educational leadership that has played a major role in political and economic change in the postwar period."

  • He proposes that the voucher amount be raised from Cleveland's $2,250 -- roughly one-third the amount spent on government schooling -- to $7,000, and be made available to all students.
  • The result would be a proliferation of private nonprofit and for-profit schools -- no longer limiting choice to predominantly church-subsidized schools.
  • When the G.I. Bill was enacted, he writes, "doubts were expressed that the colleges could expand rapidly enough to handle the flood of new students."
  • But in a market environment, supply expanded to meet the surge in new demand, and "the number of students enrolled in colleges nearly doubled in the two years after the end of the war."

As the voucher program has evolved in Milwaukee over the past 10 years, 37 new schools have opened -- nearly two-thirds of which are nonreligious.

"Private voucher programs, financed by foundations and individuals, plus the limited government programs so far enacted have already brought forth a market response," Friedman points out.

Source: Milton Friedman (Hoover Institution), "The Market Can Transform Our Schools," New York Times, July 2, 2002.  


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