Jan Resseger, the great social justice advocate based in Ohio, reviewed the origins of Andrew Coulson’s “School Inc.” now airing on PBS.

Resseger points out that the film was produced by “Free to Choose Media,” a libertarian group known for its production of Milton Friedman’s 10-part series based on his book of the same name.

“On his blog The Grade, on the website of the Phi Delta Kappan, Alexander Russo printed a very thoughtful review of School Inc. by Amy Shuffleton, Associate Professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University Chicago. She writes: “Two major premises, that education is best categorized as an industry and that industry is best subjected to unfettered free market forces, are maintained throughout. The upside of this approach is that those premises give the series a strong through line as it builds its argument across three hour-long, globe-trekking episodes. The downside is that the series never considers countervailing accounts of education and presents only strawman versions of the evidence that challenges his (Andrew Coulson’s) ideals… Supporters of traditional public schooling can find grounds to quarrel with Coulson’s interpretations all the way through.”

Who, besides Andrew Coulson and the Cato Institute, were involved in producing this film? Shuffleton explains: “School Inc was produced by Free to Choose Media. According to a Free to Choose spokesperson, it was created by Coulson, who raised the funding necessary to make it… Free to Choose network shares a name with its first production, the 10-part series by economist Milton Friedman that aired on PBS in 1980. Friedman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976, argued that free market economic principles are the basis of human freedom and wellbeing. Friedman’s neoliberal followers have opposed government regulations in a host of domains, including education.” The foundation now called EdChoice, which promotes the privatization of public education, was formerly named the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice….

If you google for reviews of the three-part School Inc., you will find several besides the column I have referenced here by Amy Shuffleton at The Grade. The other reviews were part of the promotion of the film—from the Cato Institute, Free To Choose Media, the National Review, and the Civitas Institute, a far-right North Carolina “think tank” affiliated with Art Pope.