Commentary

Nonprofit Charters to Run D.C. Failing Schools

Michelle Rhee moves forward on her plan to use outside providers and charter schools to restructure DC’s low-performing schools. Rhee seems to be taking an approach that includes parents in the discussion. Via today’s Washington Post. D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee plans to hire up to six nonprofit educational companies to help run the city’s 10 comprehensive high schools and has invited parents to meet with her tonight to discuss the details. An official from Friendship Public Charter Schools in the District, one of the organizations asked to submit a proposal, said Rhee wants contractors to take over one grade in the fall and then run entire schools beginning in 2009. For months, Rhee has discussed hiring firms as one of five options she could use under the federal No Child Left Behind law to fix 10 high schools and 17 elementary and middle schools. Students there missed academic benchmarks on the system’s standardized test for five consecutive years. Rhee’s plan applies only to the high schools. Rhee’s plan names six nonprofit organizations: Bedford Academy High School in New York; Friendship Public Charter School in the District; Institute for Student Achievement in Lake Success, N.Y.; Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia; St. HOPE Public Schools in Sacramento; and Talent Development High Schools in Baltimore.

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.