Back in 1993, during a recess when I was conducting a drug policy forum at the Hoover Institution, I heard my hero Dr. Milton Friedman discussing the issue of School Choice.  Although the ideas were intriguing, I told him that, since I was a product of the public educational system, I was concerned that school choice would undercut it.  So he asked me two questions.  First, Jim, if you were the parent of high school students, what country in the world would you want them to go to receive the best education that they could?  My response was that I was not sure, but probably not the United States of America.  He agreed with me.  Second question: Jim if you were the parent of college students, what country in the world would you want them to go to receive the best education that they could?  My response was that it would probably be the United States of America.  He agreed with me again.  Then he explained why: In colleges there is competition for your educational dollar, but in high schools there is not.  From that moment on I became a believer in School Choice.

To take that analysis one step further, as a country we must decide what the purpose is for our educational system: to educate our children (What a concept!), or to protect below-average teachers.  And guess which approach we are using today?  In fact, to analyze that even further: today education is probably the only example where the provider tells the consumers what they will purchase.  We receive good quality cell phones, computers and automobiles for reasonable prices because of competition in the private sector, and the same thing will happen if we bring competition back into the school system.  In fact, I believe that the issue of allowing public schools to fail our children, and mostly in the lower economic communities, is the most important issue facing our country today!  But take heart, because the odds are becoming strong that there will be an initiative on the ballot in California in November of 2022 that will allow the parents of each K-12 child in the state to choose where the $14,000 per year of government monies will be spent for the education of their children, be it at a public, private, religious, military or vocational school.  And why not?  Who is in a better position to decide how best to educate a child, the child’s parents or the government?  If places like Milwaukee, Wisconsin are good examples, competition brought about by parental choice will bring excellence back to our schools.  Then everyone wins, except below-average teachers and public teachers’ unions.  So stay tuned because help is on the way!  And please join us in getting this initiative on the ballot, and also in passing it!

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”  Thomas Jefferson

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

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