No History of Education Vouchers Is Complete without Thomas Paine

Source: American Institute for Economic Research
by Garion Frankel

“[Milton] Friedman’s landmark 1955 work, ‘The Role of Government in Education,’ certainly helped shape and solidify vouchers as a modern education policy tool. But while Friedman deserves great credit and acclaim for popularizing vouchers, he did not invent them. Neither did John Stuart Mill, the great British liberal of the 19th century who had similar ideas a hundred years before Friedman. The earliest known fully-fledged voucher proposal dates all the way back to the 18th century, and belongs to none other than the revolutionary American pamphleteer and political theorist Thomas Paine. Unfortunately, Paine’s prickly personality, religious unorthodoxy, and unwillingness to back down from his beliefs caused later scholars to intentionally downplay his contributions.” (06/14/22)