July 29 2014
Policy Focus: How Educational Freedom Benefits Women
Vicki E. Alger
The late economist Milton Friedman is remembered for many things: for his Nobel Prize-winning work in monetary theory, for helping replace the draft and compulsory conscription in the United States with the all-volunteer military, and, above all, for his unwavering conviction that the key to opportunity and prosperity is individual liberty—not intrusive government. This included his belief that parents should be free to select their children’s schools, and that our country should have a free market in education.
Fortunately today, a growing education marketplace and new educational paradigms are benefiting women and society in general. More women than ever are pursuing advanced education, making use of flexible schedules, at-home education options, and other continuing education opportunities. Women are benefiting as educators from a more diversified education marketplace, with new opportunities to use their skills and earn a living with schedules, locations, and work environments that are suited to them. More parents than ever before are also participating in programs that allow them to choose their children’s schools and make use of other alternative education providers.
Yet more work needs to be done to fulfill Friedman’s promise.
Far too often expanding government instead of freedom is the default education policy “solution.” The unfortunate reality is that many government programs and policies—however well-intentioned—are limiting women’s freedom to learn, teach, and choose their children’s education providers. Policymakers should embrace Friedman’s advice and focus on returning control over resources to education consumers.