Robert C. Enlow is the President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the school choice legacy foundation of Milton and Rose D. Friedman.
Robert has been an integral part of the Foundation since its founding in 1996, previously serving as fundraiser, projects coordinator, vice president, and executive director prior to being named president and CEO in 2009.
1) Can you summarize the meaning of school choice in one sentence?
Parents deserve the power to use their children’s public funding to choose the educational options, public or private, that work best for them.
2) Why do you support school choice as public policy?
Liberty in education goes hand in hand with our country’s history and the pursuit of the American dream. Choice puts power in the hands of families and requires education providers, public or private, to serve them properly and effectively.
3) What made you get actively involved in this issue?
As a former social worker, I saw firsthand what education can do for underserved families. Upon moving back to Indiana, I was given the opportunity to join the Friedman Foundation upon its founding and promote educational improvement through this, what at the time was, a very new idea.
4) What more can be done to expand school choice across the nation?
Education – but specifically the education of adults. Policymakers, community leaders, family members, neighbors, and friends need to better understand what school choice actually means, how it works, and why it’s needed.
5) Why does school choice work?
It brings education back to the local level – in fact, to the most local level, the parents. Decisions over education increasingly have centralized toward state and federal policymakers and bureaucrats. Although those decision makers are well-intentioned, their orders simply cannot meet the needs of every single child nationwide. Their parents need to, and can, make those decisions.
6) What is the biggest misconception about school choice?
Many worry, and understandably so, school choice will not help public schools. But it does, for a very important reason: By allowing parents to place their students in schools that work best, public and private schools focus their attentions on serving students to the best of their abilities. That competitive pressures inspires all schools to improve. And the research on school choice’s effects corroborates that.
7) Is there an aspect of school choice that you think is often overlooked, or doesn’t receive the attention it deserves?
School choice need not be limited to schools. There are therapists, tutors, online learning programs, homeschool programs, and all types of educational options that can give students a holistic, diverse education. A new program in Arizona and Florida, called education savings accounts, provides that opportunity and puts parents in charge of their children’s education like never before.