School Voucher advocate Milton Friedman being recognized today


It was more than fifty years ago that the late Dr. Milton Friedman first proposed expanding school choice options through the use of taxpayer-funded school “vouchers.” Arguing that government-run schools, which he characterized as “islands of socialism in a free-market sea,” could not be justified in a predominantly free market society, Friedman proposed funding students directly and allowing the free market to create for the nation the high quality schools it needed then and still needs still today.

Today, on what would have been his 96th birthday, the foundation which bears his name, The Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation, is sponsoring events across the nation celebrating his memory. The Maine Heritage Policy Center is hosting such an event today in Portland.

Raising awareness of Friedman’s free-market vision for America’s schools could not be more timely. As the Wall Street Journal noted earlier this week, this coming election pits a supporter of school choice, Senator John McCain, against an avowed opponent of school vouchers, Senator Barack Obama.  Senator Obama and his wife, it is important to note, practice school choice themselves. Their two daughters attend a $20,000-a-year private school at the University of Chicago.  To Senator Obama’s way of thinking, it would seem, school choice is fine if you can afford it, but he seems perfectly comfortable forcing his less fortunate Chicago neighbors into the very public schools his own children never set foot in.

It is hard to know whether school choice will become an issue this election season or not, but if it does, the memory of Milton Friedman, recognized across the nation today, will be well served.