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Decentralizing Schools


Published August 18, 2020

Public school systems have the same pitfalls as any monopolistic system, including a lack of both innovation and responsiveness to individual needs. To improve education, parents need to have more say in what school their child attends. Just as in every other industry, market competition is the surest way to improve quality in education.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What makes a decentralized education system more effective?
  2. What are the benefits of school choice?

Additional Resources:

  • Listen as Milton Friedman discusses the education system. Available here.
  • Read “Decentralizing Schools” by Milton Friedman. Available here.
  • Read “Milton Friedman’s Unfinished Business” by Eric Hanushek. Available here.



View Transcript

Until we change the way we run our public schools, far too many children will end up without being able to read, write, or do arithmetic. That’s not what any of us wants. The system is not working, and it is not working because it lacks a vital ingredient. The experts mean well, but a centralized system cannot possibly have that degree of personal concern for each individual child that we have as parents. The centralization produces deadening uniformity. It destroys the experimentation that is a fundamental source of progress. What we need to do is to enable parents, by vouchers or other means, to have more say about the school which their child goes to; a public school or a private school, whichever meets the need of the child best. That will inevitably give them also more say about what their children are taught, and how they are taught. Market competition is the surest way to improve the quality and promote innovation, in education as in every other field.