Thursday, June 09, 2005
San Francisco seems an unlikely home for the man who in 1962 first proposed the privatization of Social Security.In today's WSJ, Friedman finds himself as right as can be about education, reviewing progress after a national report on education in 1983 called "A Nation at Risk":
Asked why he dwells in liberalism's den, Milton Friedman, 92, the Nobel laureate economist and father of modern conservatism, didn't skip a beat.
"Not much competition here," he quipped.
'A Nation at Risk' stimulated much soul-searching and a whole series of major attempts to reform the government educational system. These reforms, however extensive or bold, have, it is widely agreed, had negligible effect on the quality of the public school system. Though spending per pupil has more than doubled since 1970 after allowing for inflation, students continue to rank low in international comparisons; dropout rates are high; scores on SATs and the like have fallen and remain flat. Simple literacy, let alone functional literacy, in the United States is almost surely lower at the beginning of the 21st century than it was a century earlier. And all this is despite a major increase in real spending per student since 'A Nation at Risk' was published.The emphasis is mine -- you'd think we had kids in schools without books if you read the local newspapers. Yet rather than deal with this issue with a modest proposal, such as sending a 1,500 children from lower-income families in the Cities to private schools, the Education Minne$ota continues to block any effort to harness the power of markets to solve these tough cases.
If Minnesota really wants to be a leader in education, it can follow up its success with open enrollment by embracing Friedman's vision.