As a titan of economic theory, Milton Friedman more than deserved his Nobel Prize. But perhaps his greatest contribution came not with the Monetarist theory or the concept of permanent income hypothesis, but in developing the concept of school vouchers — the first step in expanding parent and student choice over education. Although vouchers remain controversial, small-scale experiments, his theories on school choice have helped education reformers offer an alternative path to traditional public education.

This excerpt from a debate with several education and economic theorists — including longtime American Federation of Teachers Albert Shanker —  from Friedman’s show, Free to Choose, offers a sense of the understanding Friedman had about the power of choice that most educators still lack today. Whether or not one agrees with him, one has to admire the intellect and the apparent care he had for the lives of children and families.