Commentary

Massachusetts Miracle?

Sol Stern’s feature article that claims that an instructionist approach to education works better than incentives and competition continues to flow through the news cycle–this weekend it was in my local paper the Riverside Press Enterprise. Stern claims that Massachusetts is a good model to follow for school reform. I take on Stern’s arguments in this Reason feature. Here is more evidence that Mass. may not represent an instructional miracle. From today’s Boston Globe: Thousands of Massachusetts public high school graduates arrive at college unprepared for even the most basic math and English classes, forcing them to take remedial courses that discourage many from staying in school, according to a statewide study released yesterday. The problem is particularly acute in urban districts and vocational schools, according to the first-of-its kind study. At three high schools in Boston and two in Worcester, at least 70 percent of students were forced to take at least one remedial class because they scored poorly on a college placement test. The study raises concern that the state’s public schools are not doing enough to prepare all of their students for college, despite years of overhauls and large infusions of money.

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.