No history of education vouchers is complete without Thomas Payne

No one really seems to understand where the school choice comes from. On the one hand, opponents of school choice, such as the Center for American Progress, are willing to kill the history of the civil rights movement to brand school choice as racist. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

None is correct.

Between the two, the proponents of school choice are much closer to the truth. Indeed, Friedman’s 1955 landmark work, “The Role of Government in Education,” has certainly helped shape and consolidate vouchers as a tool for modern education policy. But while Friedman deserves great credit and praise for popularizing vouchers, he did not invent them. Nor was John Stuart Mill, the great British liberal of the 19th century, who held a similar view a hundred years before Friedman.

The first known full-fledged voucher proposal dates to the entire 18th century, and is none other than the revolutionary American pamphleteer and political theorist Thomas Payne. Unfortunately, due to Payne’s thorny personality, religious obsolescence, and reluctance to back away from his beliefs, later scholars deliberately downplayed his contributions. Nowadays, opponents of school choice try to portray Payne’s voucher concept as little more than a product of 18th century British politics.

We should avoid making the same mistake. Payne’s argument is, indirectly or otherwise, an inspiration for the modern school-choice movement, and no history of American education excludes Payne from his description.

Although Payne, at one point, was a businessman himself, he argued Human rights Trades that can impede a person’s “natural talent”. This was especially true in societies and economies like Great Britain, whose primary goal was Human rights, Where many families were unable to educate their children, educating them in a way that is desirable. Approximately 40 percent of males and 50 percent of females were illiterate and 75 percent of the population consisted of rural peasants who did not read often.

Payne’s voucher proposal was aimed at farmers who, despite not being hungry, could not educate their children, which Payne felt was essential to their children’s economic vitality. That vitality, in turn, would prevent the rise of monarchy and aristocracy, which was a manifestation of ignorance and over-concentrated wealth.

According to Payne, the solution was to “allow each of these children to pay ten shillings a year for the cost of going to school for six years, which would give them six months of schooling each year and a half-crown a year for paper and spelling. Books.” Payne’s numbers were based entirely on the measure of British wealth in the late 18th century, but the principle behind the vouchers was remarkably consistent. The stipend added to the spelling book of the modern education savings account, which families can use much more than private school tuition.

James Stillwagon, a professor of philosophy at Iona College, insisted that Payne’s proposal had nothing to do with modern voucher schemes. According to Steelewagen, Payne’s goal was to ensure a healthy democracy by reducing inequalities in social interactions, which included education and was a part of it. Stillwagon claims that Payne will oppose the modern voucher program because they snatch power from the government and instead hand it over to private entities that have no interest in the common good.

But a response to this argument can be found in Payne’s work. A footnote in the voucher section Human rightsPayne noted that “education, to be useful to the poor, should be on the scene, and the best way to accomplish this is to enable parents to bear their own costs.”

“There are always people of both sexes in every village, especially as they grow older, able to take such initiatives,” Payne added. “Twenty children (and no more than six months per year) for every ten shillings will be the amount of some livelihood in remote areas of England, and often there are widows of distressed clergy who will accept such an income. “Payne’s argument is a case in point for private tutors and microschools, which became popular after the COVID-19 epidemic and are generally accessible through education savings accounts.

Our collective understanding of the history of school choice is not without a chapter of pain. With Payne in hand, we can conclude that vouchers are not a modern concept or fundamentally racist. When advocates of modern school choice claim him to be an intellectual ancestor, it is not because of ignorance or politically motivated deception. This is done to empower families to move up the economic ladder from the general desire to use school choice.

Garion Frankel

Garion Frankel is a graduate student at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, focusing on education policy and management. He is a graduate fellow of AIER, a young voice contributor and a breaking news reporter for Chalkboard Review.

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