Market Education

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Market Education: The Unknown History is a 1999 book by education researcher Andrew J. Coulson outlining the historical role that markets have played in the provision and evolution of education, and arguing that a more free market in education would lead it to improve faster.[1]



The book was reviewed favorably in The Freeman in November 1999 by George C. Leef. Leef concluded his review by writing, "Sometimes Coulson drops his scholarly tone in favor of hyperbole, and sometimes he makes important assertions without apparent support. The lapses in the book, however, are microscopic compared to its powerful research and argumentation. If restoration of the free market in education is a matter of importance to you—and it should be—this is a book you don’t want to be without."[2]

James E. Bond reviewed the book for The Independent Review. The review was generally favorable. Bond's chief criticism was that "Coulson is less prescient about the fatal flaw in his approach: the inability of the market to supply education to the poor." Bond was not satisfied with Coulson's attempt to argue that a free market in education would lead to a robust availability of private scholarships. Bond predicted that many entrenched interests would oppose the book vociferously.[3]

Allison Halpern of the University of Wisconsin-Madison wrote a highly critical review of the book in Education Review. She wrote, "While Coulson's case for privatized education may be convincing for readers who have not followed closely the debates over school choice, it is seriously flawed."[4] Coulson's reply to Halpern was also published by Education Review.[5]

Melvin Dubnick and Martin West wrote separate reviews of the book for H-Net Online.[6][7]

Catherine Lugg reviewed the book for the History of Education Quarterly. Her review was critical of Coulson's choice of sources, including sources she considered biased and unreliable. She wrote, "It is painfully apparent that the author has taken a buffet-style approach to history. He slops tasty tidbits of bona fide research onto his plate, only to slather these morsels with "magic mushroom" sauces of propaganda. The result is a highly incredible and surrealistic history."[8] Coulson replied to the review on H-Net Online. He wrote, "Ms. Lugg's review of _Market Education_ is engaging, and her use of metaphor and hyperbole is effective on an emotional level. The reference to "magic mushroom sauce" is especially colorful. But rhetoric is not reason and metaphor is not evidence. In support of her sweeping condemnation of the book, she objects to just two of its 1,100 citations and takes issue with a single aspect of just one of the dozen historical case studies presented. Even if all three of these objections were valid they would amount to nit-picking rather than to the "egregious" and "systemic" flaws she claims them to be. As it happens, however, both of the sources that displease her are corroborated by primary evidence, and her charge against the case study is misguided."[9]

David Hardy reviewed the book for the Journal of School Choice.[10]

The book was also reviewed by Shane Atwell on his personal blog.[11]

References in other books[edit]

Coulson's book has been referenced in a number of books describing the arguments surrounding school choice and the feasibility of private parent-funded education.[12][13][14][15]

Later work by the author[edit]

In his later career at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and then at the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, where he is currently the Director, Coulson built on the work he did in his book.[16][17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Andrew J. Coulson (1999). Market Education: The Unknown History. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 978-0765804969.
  2. ^ Leef, George c. (1999-11-01). "Market Education: The Unknown History: A Strong Case for Letting the Free Market Work in Education". Retrieved 2013-10-05.
  3. ^ Bond, James E. (Winter 2001). "Market Education: The Unknown History (book review)". The Independent Review. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  4. ^ Halpern, Allison. "Market Education (book review)". Education Review. Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-10-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  5. ^ Coulson, Andrew J. "Reply to Allison Halpern's Review of Coulson's Market Education". Education Review. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2013-10-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ Dubnick, Melvin (2000-07-27). "H-net review". H-Net Online. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  7. ^ West, Martin (July 2000). "Market Education (book review)". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  8. ^ Lugg, Catherine (Winter 1999). "Market Education (book review)". History of Education Quarterly, Volume 39, Number 4. JSTOR 369940. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  9. ^ Coulson, Andrew J. (2000-01-04). "Coulson's Market Education (reply to Lugg)". H-Net Online. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  10. ^ Hardy, David. "Market Education (book review)". Journal of School Choice. 7: 414–415. doi:10.1080/15582159.2013.817905.
  11. ^ Atwell, Shane (2011-06-29). "Book Review: Market Education: The Unknown History by Andrew J. Coulson". Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-05. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ Weil, Danny K. School Vouchers and Privatization: A Reference Handbook. Retrieved 2015-10-21., Page 86
  13. ^ Hepburn, Claudia. Can the Market Save Our Schools. Fraser Institute. Retrieved 2015-10-21. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help), Page 3
  14. ^ Cooper, Bruce (ed.). "market+education"+coulson Homeschooling in Full View: A Reader. Retrieved 2015-10-21.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link), Page 249
  15. ^ Tooley, James. "market+education"+coulson Beautiful Tree. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  16. ^ "Andrew J. Coulson". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
  17. ^ Coulson, Andrew J. (2008-09-10). "Markets vs. Monopolies in Education: A Global Review of the Evidence". Cato Institute (policy analysis). Retrieved 2013-10-12. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  18. ^ Coulson, Andrew J. "Market Education and the Public Good" (PDF). Fraser Institute. Retrieved 2013-10-12. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)