, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 324–332 | Cite as

Correctly Understanding “School Choice”

  • Robert WeissbergEmail author
Symposium: Public Dilemmas Revisited


Despite ample debates over the efficacy of school choice, theorizing has lagged behind and this hinders progress. Milton Friedman, the choice movement founder, never claimed that choice would improve academics; choice was inherently valuable and parents might demand anything. Choice advocates also exaggerate the remedial power of markets and proliferating academic options seldom brings academic diligence. Given free tutoring opportunities, those lagging behind reject them, and costs will usually be too high for most low achievers. Extensive schooling options already exist, so waging political battles to add more is unnecessary. Moreover, today’s supposed “school choice” is not genuine consumer choice no matter how educationally worthwhile; it is imposed from above san consumer input. Even when choice schools shine, it is unclear why. If free to chose, consumes may prefer non-academics. Finally, if choice qua choice is the standard, focusing on academic achievement is misdirected.


School choice Educational reform Education markets Milton Friedman 

Further Reading

  1. Caplan, N., Whitmore, J. K., & Choy, M. H. 1992. The boat people and achievement in america: A study of family life, hard work and cultural values. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  2. Chub, J. E., & Moe, T., 1990. Politics markets and american schools. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  3. Coulson, A. 1999. Market education: The unknown history. New Brunswick, NJ: Transactions Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Friedman, M. with the assistance of Rose D. Friedman. 1962. Capitalism and freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (“The Role of Government in Education” was originally published in 1955 in another volume.)Google Scholar
  5. Steinberg, L. with B. Bradford Brown and Sanford M. Dornbusch. 1996. Beyond the classroom: Why school reform has failed and what parents need to do. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New YorkUSA

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