School choice is sweeping the country. But school choice as we know it will not fix the American education system. The movement must return to Milton Friedman’s vision of unfettered competition, which no existing school choice program achieves. Friedman wanted parents to have the autonomy to select the optimal educational environment for their children, without geographic limits or income levels, and to carry their entire educational funding allocation with them.
With the wind at their back, school choice advocates must be bolder and refuse to settle for half a loaf. The underlying problems of American education demand it. Despite being the most prosperous nation in the world, the United States ranks 36th in mathematics and 13th in reading on the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment, a poor result driven in part by racial achievement gaps. Despite decades of efforts to close those gaps, black and Hispanic students lag behind their white peers in academics, graduation rates and college enrollment.
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