The Idea of an Essay, Volume 4

130 The Idea of an Essay: Volume 4 From Chains to Change: The Freedom to Choose in Education Matthew Beal In 1962, an economist named Milton Friedman published a book called Capitalism and Freedom in which he elaborated on how economic capitalism should work in a society increasingly controlled by government bureaucracy. Friedman proposed several ideas on how to cut back on government meddling in the lives of individuals and return the freedom and power to choose back to individuals. Upon reaching chapter six, Friedman (1962) talked about the role of government in education. Although his proposal was not technically new, it was an idea that had received scant discussion for several years. Friedman had proposed the modern concept of free choice in education. Several years later, his ideas are now heated points of debate in the realm of education. Two things should be noted here before a discussion on free choice in education can be had, the first of which is the fundamental question: What is meant by “free choice”? The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice (FFEC) identifies four ways that this concept is implemented in the modern sense. Classically, the basic school voucher (Method #1) is a portion of public funding given to students and their parents that is to be used to send students to private schools (FFEC, 2016). Currently, the classic voucher is the most popular method followed closely by tax credit scholarships (Method #2) given to taxpayers who donate to nonprofits offering private school scholarships (FFEC, 2016). More recently, however, two more methods have gained traction. An Educational Savings Account (ESA) (Method #3) receives funding in the same manner as a voucher, but the funds can be used for substantially more than just school choice. Funds from an ESA can be used on private schooling, tutoring, entry-level college courses, textbooks, online programs, educational therapy, and other education resources (FFEC, 2016). Finally, there are individual tax credits and deductions (Method #4). Tax credits lower the tax burden, tax deductions reduce the