After 50 years, do the arguments for K- 12 vouchers still hold?


  • Daniel Laitsch Simon Fraser University


Neoliberalism, free enterprise system, government role, privatization, public policy, school choice, charter schools


In 1955, Milton Friedman authored a foundational paper proposing a shift in funding and governance mechanisms for public K-12 schools, suggesting that parents be awarded tuition vouchers that they could use to pay for private sector education services for their children, rather than relying on government provided neighborhood schools. Friedman theorized three cases in which such a system might fail, requiring greater involvement of the government in the education system: the presence of a natural monopoly; substantial neighborhood effects; and a breakdown in free exchange. This article examines these concerns by applying more than 25 years of school choice research in an attempt to answer the question, After 60 years, do the arguments for K-12 vouchers still hold? Findings cited in this article suggest that Friedman was correct to be concerned about possible deleterious effects that may arise from a privatized system.