What Would Milton Friedman Say? Freedom is a Good Idea Because it is Just, and Because it Works: For Schooling, Here’s How/Why
From the consumer perspective freedom means the availability of a diverse menu of schooling options; genuine choices from, at first, a combination of public and private initiative aimed at addressing student diversity in how they learn and what subject themes address the diversity in what engages students in academics. So, for example, a detailed government-specified curriculum significantly diminishes freedom. It greatly reduces the potential for schools to differ in ways that could be quite important. Since one size does not fit all, a mandated curriculum significantly diminishes student engagement in academics. A second key element of freedom from the consumer perspective is for all of their schooling options to be fairly equally subsidized, including possibly not at all, to avoid the current widespread terrible dilemma between a “free” public school that suits many students poorly, and a better fit that is unsubsidized (families must pay tuition on top of the taxes that support the public school system). A third key element of freedom from the consumer perspective is the right to pay more for schooling than the subsidy amount; that is, permission to top off the subsidy with their own money.
Permission to top off subsidies dovetails with a critical producer freedom which is to ask for whatever tuition they want without jeopardizing potential customers’ access to subsidies, public or private. And short of violating health-safety rules, or advocating law-breaking, school operators should be allowed to offer any curriculum-pedagogy combination they want, and make mission incompatibility-based admission denials. Failure to permit such freedoms stifles the development of new/improved schooling options.