The term education refers to the systematic process through which students learn skills, values, knowledge, and customs. Preferences regarding the desired content and outcomes of education vary from family to family, although areas of significant consensus do exist. The origins of formal education in the West date back to the 5th century B.C., and a wide range of alternative funding systems have been employed over the institution's 2,500-year history. Tax-funded government schooling currently predominates in industrialized countries, with the level of government at which power is concentrated varying from nation to nation.

Since the inception of modern government school systems in the mid- to late 19th century, occasional proposals have been made to reintroduce market incentives and parental choice. Calls for such reforms increased steadily during ...

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