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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Freedom and School Choice in American Education

The about-to-be-released book Freedom and School Choice in American Education includes my chapter,“‘Unbounded Liberty, and Even Caprice’: Why ‘School Choice’ Is Dangerous to Education,” which argues that any government involvement in the financing of education must sabotage the free market’s entrepreneurial discovery process and stifle the development of education. The chapter, along with most of the book’s chapters, was presented at a 2008 conference sponsored by the Foundation for Educational Choice (formerly the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice) and the Clemson Center for the Study of Capitalism. The book was edited by Greg Forster and C. Bradley Thompson.

In the book’s foreword Harvard University professor Paul E. Peterson writes:
In the strongest statement of all, Sheldon Richman draws upon classic economic theory to make the case that any government involvement–even school vouchers and tax credit subsidies–will ‘forbid the full blossoming of the entrepreneurial environment that is indispensable for optimal education.’ Better than any partial solutions is a commitment to letting the current system implode so that the country, in final desperation, will finally return to free market principles. One wonders whether the charitable tax deduction, an important prop for education’s private sector, survives Richman’s strict prohibition on any government involvement at all….

…We all benefit from Richman’s clear iteration of market theory, as he makes so utterly clear the distance school choice has yet to travel before it even begins to approximate that ideal.


Eric Hanneken said...

That's pretty cool of the Foundation for Educational Choice to allow you to speak heresy at a conference they sponsored.

I agree with you. Why would we want to build yet another government program on top of an existing one, especially if it exerts additional control over private institutions? If the problem is that parents can't afford to send children to private school, then the most the government should do is cut spending and taxes, anywhere. (A good idea for other reasons, too.)

Sometimes I think institutions like Cato are in favor of tax credits because a recommendation like "just cut spending and taxes" isn't a system that requires design by the sort of people that Cato employs. As a ground for Policy Analyses and books, it's barren.

Bart said...

What a review. Nice feather in your cap.

steven said...

He wonders whether the charitable tax deduction would survive your strict prohibition on any government involvement at all. Has he ever read "Your Money Or Your Life - Why We Must Abolish The Income Tax", by none other than Sheldon Richman? That should answer his question.

Sheldon Richman said...

Steven, my thought exactly.