Friedman's influence on Indy

July 30, 2008
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As fans of the late Milton Friedman gather at the Conrad Hotel tomorrow night to celebrate the libertarian economist, theyâ??ll have plenty to crow about.

Ironically, though, Friedmanâ??s ideas about turning education over to market forces have failed to gain much traction anywhere â?? even in Indianapolis, the very city where his Foundation for Educational Choice is headquartered.

IUPUI political scientist Bill Blomquist says Indianapolis seems to be more receptive to Friedmanâ??s ideas than most places. Former Mayor Steve Goldsmith gained attention in the â??90s for introducing competition into government, (a thrust spearheaded by an Eli Lilly and Co. executive named Mitch Daniels). And the Republican mayorâ??s successors, Democrat Bart Peterson and Republican Greg Ballard, have been anything but hostile to competition.

Indeed, Peterson gained his own national attention by becoming the first mayor with authority to create charter schools, which creates competition within the public school system.

But Friedmanâ??s notion of turning education over to market forces in wholesale fashion hasnâ??t materialized here or anywhere, at least in this country, Blomquist says.

â??The idea that anybody ought to be able to open something and call it a school and take on customers and see what happens is an idea thatâ??s harder to get a larger population to embrace,â?? Blomquist says.

What do you think? Should education be â??deregulated?â??
  • When the Friedman Foundation started in 1996 there were five school choice programs. Today, there are 24 school voucher and tax credit programs operating in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

    Milton Friedman's ideas are gaining traction all across the country and they should have gotten more traction in Indianapolis than anywhere else in the nation, particularly given our state's rich history of innovative education reforms. Unfortunately, to date, they have not.

    I do have to challenge Mr. Blomquist's definition of Milton Friedman's idea. Professor Friedman's ideas was not that anybody ought to open something and call it a school... I am sure that Mr. Blomquist knows this too. Professor Friedman said that One way to achieve a major improvement, to bring learning back into the classroom, especially for the currently most disadvantaged, is to give all parents greater control over their children's schooling, similar to that which those of us in the upper income classes now have.

    He further said, The voucher plan embodies exactly the same principle as the GI bills that provide for educational benefits to military veterans. The veteran gets a voucher good only for educational expense and he or she is completely free to choose the school at which to use it, provided that it satisfies certain standards.

    Hardly the radical crazy notion that Blomquist has in mind.
  • Freidman would be proud to see the Kernan Shepard recommendations implemented.

    Video Message from Joe Kernan on Local Government Reform

    Audio Clip from Randall Shepard on Local Government Reform

    Kernan-Shepard Recommendation would save between $200 and $400 million EACH year.

    Complete Report from the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform

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