The ABCs of School Choice

Published March 1, 2004

When there were just two small school choice programs in the nation–in Vermont and in Maine–keeping up-to-date wasn’t too difficult. Now, with new programs being enacted every year, it’s much more of a challenge to stay informed not only about different types of programs in different states but also about the regulations governing each program and about research results from specific programs. The Friedman Foundation’s 2003-04 edition of The ABCs of School Choice meets that challenge and puts a wealth of information in the hands of school choice advocates.

Even though charter schools and privately funded scholarship programs aren’t included, the ABCs booklet still takes two dozen pages to summarize the school choice programs that have been implemented in Arizona, Cleveland, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Information about each program is conveniently organized into a two-page spread under the following headings:

  • Program Description
  • Scholarship or Voucher Value
  • Student/School Participation
  • Student Eligibility
  • Selection Criteria
  • Legal Status of the Program
  • Regulations on the Program
  • Research on the Program
  • Governing Statutes and Amendments

The booklet also contains a glossary of school choice terms and responses to frequently asked questions about school choice. Robert Enlow, executive director of the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation, said the publication would provide school choice advocates with “a valuable tool” with which to combat “half-truths about the issue.”

“Opponents of vouchers and tax credits have redoubled their efforts to stop any kind of parental choice and freedom in education,” said Enlow, noting almost all new school choice initiatives come under multiple legal challenges from opponents.

About the Foundation

For the Friedmans, the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation is the culmination of almost five decades of interest in improving the quality of education for all the nation’s children, whether they are educated in government schools, in private schools, or at home. That interest began in 1955 when they suggested the idea of educational vouchers as a more equitable and efficient means for delivering education.

“The interjection of competition would do much to promote a healthy variety of schools,” they wrote. “It would do much, also, to introduce flexibility into school systems.”

But after seeing attempts to introduce educational vouchers almost always beaten back by well-financed and mendacious attacks by the educational establishment–administrators and teacher unions–the Friedmans concluded the achievement of effective parental choice required an ongoing educational effort among a range of cooperating groups to inform the public about the issues and possible solutions. The Foundation is their contribution to that objective.


For more information …

Copies of The ABCs of School Choice may be obtained from the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation, One American Square, Suite 1750, Box 82078, Indianapolis, IN 46282; phone 317/681-0745; Web The booklet also is available online at