Milton Friedman Was Right to Call Them 'Government Schools'

Today is Milton Friedman’s birthday. He was the 1976 Nobel-prize winning economist who promoted free-market ideals and limited government. The Economist called him “the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century…possibly of all of it.”

He died in 2006, but one of his lasting legacies is EdChoice, formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the organization Friedman and his economist wife, Rose Director Friedman, founded in 1996. The non-profit strives to “advance educational freedom and choice for all as a pathway to successful lives and a stronger society.”

It is fitting that today Friedman is mentioned in The New York Times, but it’s not to offer birthday wishes. Instead, today’s opinion article written by journalist Katherine Stewart, author of The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, criticizes Friedman and his current education choice followers.

Friedman’s Take

Stewart alludes to Friedman’s influential 1955 paper advocating education choice and school vouchers for parents. In that paper, Friedman offers the foundation for modern school choice theory. He begins with a statement as true today as it was then:

The current pause, perhaps reversal, in the trend toward collectivism offers an opportunity to reexamine the existing activities of government and to make a fresh assessment of the activities that are and those that are not justified.”

Friedman goes on to advocate for the “denationalization of education” through choice and vouchers. He writes:

Given, as at present, that parents can send their children to government schools with out special payment, very few can or will send them to other schools unless they too are subsidized. Parochial schools are at a disadvantage in not getting any of the public funds devoted to education; but they have the compensating advantage of being run by institutions that are willing to subsidize them and can raise funds to do so, whereas there are few other sources of subsidies for schools. Let the subsidy be made available to parents regardless where they send their children – provided only that it be to schools that satisfy specified minimum standards – and a wide variety of schools will spring up to meet the demand. Parents could express their views about schools directly, by withdrawing their children from one school and sending them to another, to a much greater extent than is now possible.”

“Government Schools”

In her op-ed today, entitled “What ‘Government School’ Means,” Stewart writes at length about the term “government schools,” a phrase Friedman used and that many of us use today to describe compulsory, taxpayer-funded, government-controlled schooling. She argues that referring to public schools as “government schools” is rooted in a racist past of “American slavery, Jim Crow-era segregation, anti-Catholic sentiment and a particular form of Christian fundamentalism,” and she attacks the marriage of those advocating economic and religious freedom. Stewart writes:

Many of Friedman’s successors in the libertarian tradition have forgotten or distanced themselves from the midcentury moment when they formed common cause with the Christian right.”

In its modern usage, as well as Friedman’s use of the term, the phrase “government schooling” is often used to draw attention to increasing federal and state control of education, and the corresponding weakening of parental influence and choice. For instance, in his 1991 Wall Street Journal op-ed, former New York State Teacher of the Year, John Taylor Gatto, writes:

Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents.”

In her article today, Stewart links compulsory government schooling with democracy: She concludes:

When these people talk about ‘government schools,’ they want you to think of an alien force, and not an expression of democratic purpose. And when they say ‘freedom,’ they mean freedom from democracy itself.”

But for Friedman and his current school choice followers, freedom from a government-controlled, compulsory institution is a fully democratic expression that widens opportunity and expands liberty. School choice beyond government schools also frees many young people from what can be an oppressive childhood mandate.

Facilitating Freedom with School Choice

As a teacher for 30 years, Gatto saw first-hand the harm that compulsory government schooling can cause. In his Wall Street Journal article he writes:

Good schools don’t need more money or a longer year; they need real free-market choices, variety that speaks to every need and runs risks. We don’t need a national curriculum or national testing either. Both initiatives arise from ignorance of how people learn or deliberate indifference to it. I can’t teach this way any longer. If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know.”

School choice measures can promote freedom and opportunity, and reduce harm to children. They can also help to limit the role of government while augmenting the role of parents and educators.

Friedman concludes his 1955 paper describing how school choice measures can facilitate freedom. He states that these measures would lead to “a sizable reduction in the direct activities of government, yet a great widening in the educational opportunities open to our children. They would bring a healthy increase in the variety of educational institutions available and in competition among them. Private initiative and enterprise would quicken the pace of progress in this area as it has in so many others. Government would serve its proper function of improving the operation of the invisible hand without substituting the dead hand of bureaucracy.”

Happy Birthday, Mr. Friedman. May your legacy endure.

Kerry McDonald has a B.A. in Economics from Bowdoin and an M.Ed. in education policy from Harvard. She lives in Cambridge, Mass. with her husband and four never-been-schooled children. Follow her writing at Whole Family Learning.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

On the radio program Friday, Glenn Beck discussed the recent news that a primary source for the Steele Dossier — the document on which much of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation was based — had been investigated by the FBI for contacts with suspected Russian spies. Glenn also shared several previously unpublished texts and emails from FBI agents have recently been released.

According to a letter sent by Attorney General William Barr to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday, the FBI knew early on that the research compiled by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele relied on a "Primary Sub-source" that had been "the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed his or her contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers" — but still used it to obtain warrants to spy on former Trump campaign-aide Carter Page.

But, it gets even worse. Now, new leaked texts and communications from FBI agents within the department at the time of the entire Russian collusion effort were disclosed in federal court filings on Thursday. According to the court documents, FBI agents purchased "professional liability insurance" to protect themselves in January 2017, just weeks before Donald Trump was inaugurated president, because they were concerned about the agency's potentially illegal activity during the Russia collusion investigation.

"Trump was right," one FBI employee wrote in response to then-President-elect Trump's Jan 3, 2017 tweet which read: "The 'Intelligence' briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!"

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Among other serious allegations, the 87-page report claims that "Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow," and the richest woman in Russia.

"The transactions discussed [in the report] are designed to illustrate the depth and extent of some questionable financial transactions. Moreover, the financial transactions illustrate serious counterintelligence and extortion concerns relating to Hunter Biden and his family," the report stated.

Jason suggested the Senate's findings provide additional evidence to back allegations of a money-laundering scheme, which Glenn detailed in a four-part series about Biden's shady connections to Ukraine. Learn more on this here.

"Laundered money is very hard to track to its finality," Jason explained. "I'm sure the Biden camp is really hoping that it just looks suspicious, but [investigators] don't ever find the eventual end point. But, if they do – and it's possible they already have – this is going to be explosive, very explosive."

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Revolutions rarely happen overnight. The Left started laying the groundwork for November 3, 2020, the moment Hillary Clinton had to concede the 2016 election to Donald Trump. It was always solely about getting rid of President Trump — and there's a playbook for that.

Last week, Glenn Beck showed you the "Seven Pillars of Color Revolution" written by a former U.S. diplomat, which are the conditions that must be in place for a successful Eastern European-style "Color Revolution." The left seems to be pushing for a Color Revolution this election because they are using the exact same playbook.

In part two of this series, Glenn peels back the layers on the first four of these Color Revolution pillars to show you how they work and what the end goal is. And he reveals one of the architects of the playbook – a Color Revolution specialist, former ambassador, and former Obama administration official who is one of the key masterminds of this revolution.

Joining Glenn is political campaign veteran and BlazeTV host Steve Deace who says the polls that claim Biden is leading the race "are trash." We're being set up to believe that if Trump wins in spite of the polls, it must be an invalid election.

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Sen. Cruz argued that, while Congressional Democrats are outraged over President Trump's chance at a third court appointment, no one on either side should be afraid of a Supreme Court justice being appointed if it's done according to the founding documents. That's why it's crucial that the GOP fills the vacant seat with a true constitutionalist.

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