The quality of public education in America today in many places is in a clear downward spiral. Dr. Friedman identifies the increasing centralization and bureaucratization of the educational establishment, which inhibits educators from seeing and responding to the needs of their “consumers” — parents and students; He also touches on our altered view of the relationship between the individual and society— the shift from seeing the individual as responsible for oneself to seeing the individual as someone controlled by social forces. An obvious solution is to give power back to the parents. Could the voucher system be a means of exercising that power and foster competition among public and private institutions? Would that encourage them to offer us a better quality educational “product”?
As Milton sees it, “We have seen problems of discipline, problems of schools becoming places for keeping people rather than for schooling and educating people. Throughout the country SAT scores, College Board scores, have been going down for some fifteen or twenty years. At every level we have a deplorable state of our present educational system. And as I say, I need spend very little time over the fact that it is a problem about which we should be very much aware, and about which it is essential to try to do something.”
What is that something? Listen to the podcast Milton Friedman Speaks – Putting Learning Back in the Classroom to find out.