Education Obituary

Milton Friedman

By Ann Bradley — November 28, 2006 1 min read

Milton Friedman, the renowned economist who was considered the father of the school voucher movement, died Nov. 16. He was 94 and had suffered heart failure.

Mr. Friedman made education policy history in 1955 when he called for giving parents tuition vouchers to spend on the public or private schools of their choice in “The Role of Government in Education,” an essay published in the journal Economics and the Public Interest.

Milton Friedman

The proposal was in line with his lifelong belief that the voluntary choices of individuals, not the dictates of the state, should regulate human life, and that government should be based on the liberty of the individual, according to a tribute on the Web site of the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation in Indianapolis. Mr. Friedman and his wife established the foundation in 1996 to promote school choice.

Mr. Friedman rejected the belief dominant through much of the 20th century that governments should manage their national economies. As a leader of the “Chicago school” of free-market economists at the University of Chicago, he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1976. He moved to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in 1977.

In the last years of his life, Mr. Friedman, along with Rose Friedman, focused on enhancing school choice. In a 2005 interview with Education Week, he lamented the slow progress of the voucher movement but predicted it would take complete root within the next 50 years. (“Friedman Foundation Marks 50 Years Since Voucher Idea,” June 22, 2005.)

A version of this article appeared in the November 29, 2006 edition of Education Week