Inserting much-needed historical context into the voucher debates, Freedom of Choice: Vouchers in American Education treats school vouchers as a series of social movements set within the context of evolving American conservatism. The study ranges from the use of tuition grants in the 1950s and early 1960s in the interest of fostering segregation to the wider acceptance of vouchers in the 1990s as a means of counteracting real and perceived shortcomings of urban public schools.
The rise of school vouchers, author Jim Carl suggests, is best explained as a mechanism championed by four distinct groups—white supremacists in the South, supporters of parochial school in the North, minority advocates of community schools in the nation’s big cities, and political conservatives of both major parties. Though freedom was the rallying cry, this book shows that voucher supporters had more specific goals: continued racial segregation of public education, tax support for parochial schools, aid to urban community schools, and opening up the public school sector to educational entrepreneurs.
- Case studies describe, explain, and compare the origins of school vouchers in four states: Louisiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin
- Interviews with key participants in the debates over school vouchers, including Christopher Jencks and the late Milton Friedman
- Eight tables and graphs detail demographic and educational changes in New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Cleveland
- Four maps show the locations of voucher schools and programs in New Orleans, New Hampshire, Milwaukee, and Cleveland
- Photographs of student and parent supporters of school vouchers
- A bibliography of primary and secondary sources in urban history, history of education, and educational policy studies