Celebrating Freedom and School Choice: Honoring Dr. Milton Friedman

HARRISBURG, PA — The Commonwealth Foundation and the REACH Foundation will honor Nobel Laureate economist Dr. Milton Friedman as part of the national Friedman Legacy for Freedom campaign on July 31, which would have been Friedman’s 95th birthday.

The event, held in partnership with the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, will explore the impact Friedman and his free-market theories have had on our society. In particular, the Commonwealth Foundation and REACH Foundation focused on Friedman’s belief that all parents have a right to choose the school that best meets their child’s educational needs.

“Milton Friedman was a great defender of economic liberty, of limited government, and of personal responsibility,” said Matthew J. Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation. “His contributions in the field of economics and his advancement of free-market ideas to a public audience will long endure.”

Friedman, who passed away in November 2006, was regarded as one of the world’s most powerful and influential promoters of freedom. He argued that the voluntary choices of individuals—not the dictates of the state—should be the default mode of human life. According to Friedman, government is justified only insofar as it preserves, protects and defends people’s liberty. His revolutionary work in economic theory earned him the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976. In 2007, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a resolution honoring Milton Friedman and his contributions to politics and economics because he “helped restore our faith in the freedom of the individual to choose.”

“Milton Friedman was a true visionary and advocate for human freedom,” said Robert C. Enlow, executive director and COO of the Friedman Foundation. “His writings and ideas transformed the minds of U.S. Presidents, world leaders, entrepreneurs and freshman economics majors alike. We’re delighted to have the Commonwealth Foundation and the REACH Foundation join us in celebrating his legacy for freedom.

Even at 94, Friedman never chose to slow down. He spent the last decade of his life fighting to bring educational freedom to all of America’s children. In 1996, he and his wife Rose founded the Friedman Foundation to promote his vision for universal school choice—an idea he first proposed in 1955.

The Commonwealth Foundation and the REACH Foundation will hold a roundtable discussion at noon that will focus on the benefits of school choice and steps that need to be taken to promote school choice in the Keystone state. The discussion will include legislators and media to better familiarize them with many of the benefits of and challenges to school choice.

Following this discussion, the Commonwealth Foundation and REACH Foundation will hold a joint press conference unveiling the latest school choice research and information from the Commonwealth Foundation and the REACH Foundation.

REACH will be releasing “The Fiscal Impact of the EITC Program”. The report analyzed the positive fiscal impact of the program on Pennsylvania families and taxpayers. The REACH Foundation has been working with the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program since its inception in 2001. The program continues to grow in popularity every year and has become the national model for successful business educational tax credit programs. During the 2006-07 school year, over 33,000 children received EITC scholarships. Since the programs inception in 2001, more than 2,300 Pennsylvania companies have participated in the EITC program donating over $260 million to participating organizations.

The Commonwealth Foundation will be releasing an analysis of the property tax savings of school choice. The policy brief, titled The Dollars and Sense of School Choice, examines the spending differences—and savings to taxpayers—of charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling, and the proposal to expand school choice in the Keystone state.

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EDITORS NOTE: The REACH Foundation report, “The Fiscal Impact of the EITC Program,” is available at www.PASchoolChoice.org or by calling 717.238.1878. The Commonwealth Foundation policy brief, “The Dollars and Sense of School Choice,” is available at mail.CommonwealthFoundation.org/pb19-04.pdf or by calling 717.671.1901.

The REACH (Road to Educational Achievement Through Choice) Foundation and its sister organization, the REACH Alliance, are Pennsylvania’s grassroots coalitions dedicated to ensuring parental choice in education. For more information visit www.PASchoolChoice.org.

The Commonwealth Foundation (www.CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.

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