Briefing Paper No. 23

Public Schools: Make Them Private

By Milton Friedman
June 23, 1995

Executive Summary

Our elementary and secondary educational system needs to be radically restructured. Such a reconstruction can be achieved only by privatizing a major segment of the educational system—i.e., by enabling a private, for-profit industry to develop that will provide a wide variety of learning opportunities and offer effective competition to public schools. The most feasible way to bring about such a transfer from government to private enterprise is to enact in each state a voucher system that enables parents to choose freely the schools their children attend. The voucher must be universal, available to all parents, and large enough to cover the costs of a high-quality education. No conditions should be attached to vouchers that interfere with the freedom of private enterprises to experiment, to explore, and to innovate.

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Milton Friedman, a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976. This article appeared in the Washington Post on February 19, 1995. Reprinted by permission of the author and theWashington Post.