The Free Market Approach to Educational Reform

by Leonard Billet

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Free market or "free education" is a method of extending both parent and pupil control over educational institutions by requiring each family to select and pay for its own children's education. The author argues that the public school system is fundamentally contrary to ideals of a free society; it undermines individual and family choice and responsibility and stultifies innovation and variety in educational life. It is excessively coercive, inequitably financed, and intellectually, socially and racially regressive in its effects. Taxation for educational purposes should be restricted to providing aid through a voucher mechanism to those families unable to pay for their own children's education. The author discusses educational reform by reassessing the free market approach and examining its origins in the ideas of Adam Smith. Also examined are implicit and explicit justifications associated with free education, its key notions and potential consequences for class stratification, equality and racial segregation.

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