Parental Choice as an Education Reform Catalyst: Global Lessons

John Merrifield, Cato Institute
June 2005

In this dry but important book, John Merrifield takes a look at the current state of school reform on a global scale and envisions changes needed to advance the reform movement. Using seven examples of parental-choice programs in Chile, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United States, he contends that current school choice initiatives should be seen as "early milestones toward real and substantive reform, not destinations, or even indefinite rest stops." According to Merrifield, the small experiments that have been adopted in the U.S. are not enough to force change; advocates need to push for more. Namely, several "essential elements" are needed in order to transform the school choice movement into a "reform catalyst": the freedom for schools to specialize, non-discrimination regarding funding, low formal entry barriers, avoiding price controls, and minimal private school regulation. We would add "accountability for results" to the list, but otherwise the book is useful reading. You can download it here.

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