Lisa Snell: Competition is Revolutionizing Public Schools

When I think of public schools, the first thing that comes to mind now is the high school principal who was removed from his position and escorted from the building by police because he wanted his teachers to use lesson plans. Everyone knows public schools are broken. Can they be fixed?

Lisa Snell, director of education and child welfare at the Reason Foundation, spoke at the New Hampshire Liberty Forum on how even the smallest measures of market reform in education yield significant improvements in the existing public school systems. She discussed several education reforms such as property tax credits and vouchers, but spent the bulk of her talk discussing the most minimal reform, charter schools.

Even such a slight improvement in the situation can turn things around for the students who are stuck in an underperforming school, such as Locke High School in the Watts area of Los Angeles, Calif. During the speech she also showed a video from reason.tv, Unlocked, showing how the teachers’ union fought tooth and nail to prevent its conversion into a charter school, where they would actually have to teach instead of just sitting in class reading a book all day while students ran amok.

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“Do these marginal improvements just make public schools stronger and more attractive to parents, thus sidelining the larger goal of a true market in education?” she asks. “Anything that takes money away from that [public school] monopoly and divides it up among the parents is a positive sign.”

The New Hampshire Liberty Forum is an annual conference hosted by the Free State Project to showcase libertarian activism, especially in New Hampshire. The Free State Project aims to have 20,000 activists move to New Hampshire to work toward reclaiming and securing liberty.