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Market Education: The Unknown History (Frontier Issues in Economic Thought)

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1560004080
ISBN-10: 1560004088
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Editorial Reviews


“Working from an historical perspective, Coulson has written an apologia for competitive, free market education… In Coulson's terms competitive, free market education will provide for a more innovative, more flexible, and more responsive system of schooling… Coulson believes that a competitive school system will result in more flexibility and a new range of schooling alternatives in all shapes and sizes. All levels.” 

—R. J. Reynolds, Choice

“In this unusually well written and thoroughly researched book, Andrew J. Coulson ranges from ancient Greece and Rome to modern America and Japan to document his conclusion that parental choice in a private educational market is afar more effective system for educating children than government-run schools. Encyclopedic in its coverage of the arguments for and against alternative modes of organizing schooling, readers will find this excellent book instructive whether they agree or disagree with his conclusion.”

—Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate in Economics

“Coulson’s [Market Education] is a sweeping blow to those of us who keep hoping the system that served earlier generations reasonably well can be helped to overcome the effects of bad policies, inadequate teachers, disengaged parents, and indifferent students to perform its magic yet again. He wonders if the magic was ever there. . . .”

—William Raspberry, The Washington Post

“School choice has a much longer history than most imagine. All those committed to school reform should read this fascinating historical account.”

—Paul Peterson, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government, and Director of the Program on Education, Policy, and Governance, Harvard University

“American schools cost more than do those in most other countries. Yet, the longer our students are in school, the further they fall behind students in other advanced countries. Andrew Coulson draws upon both history and current research to identify clear reasons for such poor results. His book convincingly tells policymakers and parents how to solve the deep-seated problems of our schools.”

—Herbert J. Walberg, Research Professor of Education and Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago

"Coulson's use of international historical evidence to analyze contemporary debates typically driven by ideology is refreshing, and represents a major contribution ot the field of educational policy."

—Martin West, Oxford University

About the Author

Andrew J. Coulson is an independent scholar based in Seattle, Washington, and a contributing editor to Education Policy Analysis Archives.


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Product Details

  • Series: Frontier Issues in Economic Thought (Book 21)
  • Hardcover: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers (January 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560004088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560004080
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,901,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Kathleen K. Melonakos on August 12, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been doing research on what can be done about the sad state of public education. I read this 391 page book gripped by fascination. Any lover of history, ideas, civilization, or America should read this book. Why are our schools in serious decline? For some of the same reasons the Soviet Union collapsed. Andrew Coulson examines our current system of public education, and argues for revitalization through direct parental control. He looks at times in history when education has been free from state control, and shows that those have been some of the times of greatest cultural flourishing, such as Periclean Athens. He also looks at education in other countries, historically and currently. Public vs. private education in England, and Japan and the Netherlands are particularly of interest. He examines the history of American education, and dispells myths like the idea that people were illiterate until publicly funded education came along. The truth is that the literacy rate was much higher BEFORE Horace Mann first started promoting the idea of state schooling based on the Prussian military model of that time. Coulson also looks at constitutional questions, and deals with the legitimacy of government compelling belief. Anyone who supports the ailing status quo of public education is going to have to come to terms with the formidable research and persuasive arguments presented by Senior Research Associate and former softwear engineer, Andrew Coulson, who devoted four years to producing this book. They will also have to answer the other growing advocates of education liberation, among whom are Thomas Sowell (Inside American Education: The Decline, The Deception, The Dogmas) Stephen Arons (Compelling Belief: The Culture of American Schooling) and Sheldon Richman (The Separation of School and State). I salute Andrew Coulson as having done a magnificent job in writing this well documented and thoughtful study.
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Format: Paperback
Many people have proposals for what should be done about education today. Few have looked into history to see what has been successful in the past. This book does that. Few have hard data to back up their theories. This book does. It cites more than one thousand authentic historical and statistical sources. Half of these are original documents (or translations thereof).
The bibliography alone is worth the price of this book. I had been searching for statistics on literacy, and I found so much more here! This book is not only an excellent survey of educational methods throughout history, but also a comprehensive list of sources for future research.
The author is biased toward completely privatized education, and in this book he explains why. He starts where democracy started, in Ancient Greece. Most of us have heard of Athens and Sparta. We know Spartans were dedicated warriors. We know they had to come home from war "with their shield or on it." We know the city state of Sparta was everything, and each individual citizen was dispensable.
We know that Athens, not Sparta, became the capitol in Greece's Golden Age. What I did not know before reading about it in this book was that Athens had no official school system, no regulation of teachers, and no required curriculum. Athenian teachers simply charged parents directly for educating their children. Each teacher specialized in a subject, and the parents simply chose teachers with good reputations who taught the subjects they wanted their children to know. Competition for students kept prices down. Some excellent teachers were wealthy and did not charge, notably Plato and Aristotle. The result of this free market education method was a city that became its country's leader in art, philosophy, and science.
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Format: Paperback
We know that our public schools are not providing the quality of education that they should. Market Education does an excellent job of analyzing what the problems with public education are and making thoughtful recommendations for how to improve it. The book should be required reading for anyone interested in improving our children's education.
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An intriguing, highly original account of how government-funded schools have driven out superior private schooling, going back to the ancients and concluding with our failed U.S. schools of today. I haven't seen any other book that presents the history of this takeover of the educational market, and how harmful it has been to students in virtually every country and era in which it has occurred. Anyone interested in improving the education of children really needs to read this book. It's a compelling argument for school choice, and it's written in an appealing style by an author who is obviously passionate about his subject. My guess is that public school teachers will find this book particularly enlightening, since it explains a great deal of their frustration with bureaucracy getting in the way of educating kids. Coulson presents many suggestions for moving our educational system towards greater freedom for students, parents, and teachers.
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