Commentary

Charters for Oakland?

Under Randy Ward the Oakland school district is planning on converting 8 failing schools to charter schools. The reaction from the teacher union president versus Oakland parents really sheds light on the union’s priorities. No surprise, but it is always shocking to see how unashamed the union is while locking children in failing schools. “We don’t need to be doing the dirty work for George Bush here in Oakland,” teachers union President Ben Visnick told Ward during the meeting. “Don’t pick on the poor kids. Shame on you. Shame on you.” Compare that with this quote from a grandparent with a child in a failing school in Oakland: Great-grandmother Mary Degraffenreed said she does not mind if the school does become a charter, “as long as my grandchild learns.” So trying to make the failing schools more competitive and responsive is picking on poor children but leaving the children in a school that has failed for several years is NOT.

Lisa Snell is the director of education and child welfare at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

Snell has frequently testified before the California State Legislature and numerous other state legislatures and government agencies. She has authored policy studies on school finance and weighted student funding, universal preschool, school violence, charter schools, and child advocacy centers.

Snell is a frequent contributor to Reason magazine, School Reform News and Privatization Watch. Her writing has also appeared in Education Week, Edutopia, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.

Ms. Snell is also an advisory board member to the National Quality Improvement Center for the Children's Bureau; is on the charter school accreditation team for the American Academy for Liberal Education; and serves as a board member for the California Virtual Academy.

Before joining Reason Foundation, Snell taught public speaking and argumentation courses at California State University, Fullerton. She earned a Master of Arts in communication from California State University, Fullerton.