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Richman on School Choice


The new book Freedom and School Choice in American Educationincludes a chapter by Freeman editor Sheldon Richman titled “‘Unbounded Liberty, and Even Caprice’: Why ‘School Choice’ Is Dangerous to Education.”

The book, edited by Greg Forster and C. Bradley Thompson, is a compilation of papers 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. (Additional chapters have been added.)

Drawing on Austrian and Public Choice theory, Richman’s chapter argues that as long as government is involved in the finance of education in any manner — even through vouchers or tax credits — the market’s entrepreneurial process will be stifled and education will fall short of what could be achieved in a truly free environment. The quotation in the title is from Joseph Priestley, whose views on education Richman discussed in a TGIF column last year.

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.

The book, to be released on June 7, is available on Amazon for pre-order here.



Tsvetelin Tsonevski is director of academic affairs at FEE. He holds an LL.M. degree in Law and Economics from George Mason School of Law.

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April 2014

Around the world, people are struggling to throw off authoritarianism, with deeply mixed results. From Egypt to Venezuela, determined people build networks to overthrow their regimes, but as yet we have not learned to live without Leviathan. In this issue, Michael Malice and Gary Dudney discuss their glimpses inside totalitarian regimes, while Sarah Skwire and Michael Nolan look at how totalitarian regimes grind down the individual--and how individuals fight back. Plus, Jeffrey Tucker identifies a strain in libertarianism that, left unchecked, could reduce even our vibrant movement to something that is analogous to the grim aesthetic of architectural brutalism. The struggle for our lives and freedom is a struggle for beauty; it begins inside each of us.
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