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"Freedom of Choice: Vouchers in American Education"

Oringally posted on October 8, 2011 

By JIm Carl

October 3, 2011
"Freedom of Choice: Vouchers in American Education"

Jim Carl's new book is now available: Jim Carl, Freedom of Choice: Vouchers in American Education (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011).

Inserting much-needed historical context into the voucher debates, Freedom of Choice 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. Carl focuses on the growth of school vouchers in four states: Louisiana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

The rise of school vouchers, 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.

Carl focuses on education policy from historical and comparative perspectives. He is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Curriculum and Foundations.