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About this book

This book offers an intellectual history of the libertarian case for markets in education. Currie-Knight tracks the diverse and evolving arguments libertarians have made, with each chapter devoted to a different libertarian thinker, their reasoning and their impact.

What are the issues libertarians have had with state-controlled public schooling? What have been the libertarian voices on the benefits of markets in education? How have these thinkers interacted with law and policy? All of these questions are considered in this important text for those interested in debates over market mechanisms in education and those who are keen to understand how those arguments have changed over time.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
This chapter outlines the subsequent chapters of Education in the Marketplace and the significance of a historical examination of pro-market libertarian ideas on education. The chapter ends with a brief history of public education in the United States up to the twentieth century, with emphasis on how the state has expanded its role in ways libertarians wished to counteract.
Kevin Currie-Knight

Chapter 2. Albert Jay Nock: Pessimism About Education by State or Market

Abstract
Albert Jay Nock (1870–1945) was a news magazine writer and social critic who wrote, among other things, a book called Theory of Education in the United States. For Nock, an anarchist who favored laissez-faire capitalism, state education was an impermissible intrusion on individual liberty less suited to true education than to training good workers. Yet, influenced by Matthew Arnold, Nock was equally skeptical that private enterprise could provide the kind of truly good (because rigorous and scholastic) education Nock believed customers would not want.
Kevin Currie-Knight

Chapter 3. Frank Chodorov: Consumer Sovereignty, Markets in Education, and “A School on Every Corner”

Abstract
Frank Chodorov (1887–1966) was Nock’s protege, and also a magazine writer. While Chodorov’s libertarian political philosophy resembled Nock’s in most areas, Chodorov was optimistic about the superiority of private enterprise in education. This, I argue, owes to the influence of the libertarian economist Ludwig von Mises, who stressed the importance of consumer sovereignty and suggested that economists should celebrate markets ability to satisfy consumer preferences rather than opine one what consumers should prefer. Chodorov ideally preferred no role for government in education, but compromised to support the minimal government function of giving individuals tax deductions/credits for money spent purchasing private education.
Kevin Currie-Knight

Chapter 4. Ayn Rand: Isabel Paterson, Private Education for a Free Society, and Education for Galt’s Gulch

Abstract
Ayn Rand (1905–1982) was a novelist and philosopher. She produced several successful libertarian-themed novels and created a philosophy called Objectivism. Her educational writings stressed that, as a state enterprise, public education was ill-equipped to teach the kind of individualism and rational thinking on which a free society depends. Private markets in education were preferred, among other reasons, because they were thought more likely to equip individuals for a free and rational society. Rand supported a role for government in education limited to giving tax credits to individuals for the purchase of education.
Kevin Currie-Knight

Chapter 5. Murray Rothbard: Separating Education and the State Beyond Left and Right

Abstract
Murray (1926–1995) Rothbard was an anarchist economist in the “Austrian School” tradition who believed the market could replace all social functions currently supplied by governments. Rothbard viewed the state as an agency that sought to obtain and retain power over citizens; state education was an instrument toward this goal. (In this, he shared much in common with education critics of the New Left) He argued that markets in educational services were justified because markets avoided coercion against individuals as well as forced standardization of instruction for all. Rothbard believed there was no role the state should play in education.
Kevin Currie-Knight

Chapter 6. Milton (and Rose) Friedman: Education Vouchers and State Financing of Private Education

Abstract
Milton Friedman (1912–2006) was an economist in the “Chicago School” tradition who had primarily utilitarian reasons for his libertarian views. As such, he was not as doctrinaire as some about opposing government presence in education. He and his wife Rose argued that there were reasons why the state funded education, they argued that private organizations, not governments, should provide education services. The Friedmans preferred a voucher system where the state provides educational funding to families but largely refrained from maintaining their own schools.
Kevin Currie-Knight

Chapter 7. Myron Lieberman: Education Without Romance, Public Choice Economics, and Markets in Education

Abstract
Myron Lieberman (1919–2013) was a public school teacher and teachers’ union negotiator turned professor of education. His time within the public school system led him to lament the inflexibility and bureaucracy of the public school system, which, he believed, stemmed from the public school bureaucracy’s immulnity from competitive markets. Drawing on a “public choice” approach to economics, Lieberman went on to critique public school systems, arguing not only that models of school choice via markets, but also that school-choice plans should allow and encourage for-profit schools to compete in the educational marketplace.
Kevin Currie-Knight

Chapter 8. “Other Conceptions, Both Powerful and Exotic”: School Choice Visions from Voices from the Political Left

Abstract
For contrast, this chapter focuses on several school choice proposals from the 1960s and 1970s that were not motivated by market libertarianism. Theodore Sizer (1932–2009) favored markets in education from the belief that they’d enhance equity, preserve diversity, and keep schools under the control of those within them. John “Jack” Coons (1929–) and Stephen Sugarman (1942–) created a school choice plan they believed would fund education more equitably than existing public school plans. John Holt (1923–1985) favored school choice as a way to lessen the cultural grip of conventional schooling and open the way for alternative vehicles for education. In each of these plans, governments would have several roles beyond what market libertarians would assign.
Kevin Currie-Knight

Chapter 9. Conclusion

Abstract
2013 saw publication of two important books on school choice, one by school choice advocate and former Congressman Ron Paul, and another by school choice critic and education historian Diane Ravitch. Examining the arguments each employs helps show us both how heated the issue of school choice has become since the market libertarians in this book wrote but also how market libertarians have influenced these discussions.
Kevin Currie-Knight

Backmatter

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