Education policy research and pro-bono consulting aimed at building a better K-12 system for students. 

Reason Foundation’s Education Policy Team envisions a K-12 education system with robust learning opportunities that meet the unique needs of all families. 

Through research, thought leadership, and pro bono consulting Reason’s team of experts helps policymakers and education advocates pursue student-centered reforms.  

Our specialty is the intersection of school finance and school choice. We help stakeholders understand complex school funding systems and support reforms that maximize transparency and allow dollars to follow the student.


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Our Work

Reason’s education policy team focuses on reforms that put students first and make education dollars more flexible.

School Finance Reform

We help policymakers pursue student-centered school finance reforms that make education funding more fair, transparent, flexible, and portable for all students. Our data-driven approach identifies key problems with funding systems and helps guide policy solutions without relying on spending more taxpayer dollars.

Open Enrollment

Our research shows that most states have restrictive student-transfer laws that deny opportunities to students. We help policymakers design policies that give families access to more options within the public education system including cross-district and within-district open enrollment.   

School Choice

Our team informs policymakers and other stakeholders about the benefits of private school choice, charter schools, and other innovative policy solutions that give families access to educational opportunities.

Student Transportation Innovation

Lack of transportation is a major barrier to families using school choice. We help policymakers adopt more flexible approaches to providing transportation so that families can more easily access the learning environment that is the best fit for their children. 


How We Can Help

Reason’s education team provides pro-bono consulting to state legislators, executive branch staff, and education advocates. Through data modeling, policy research, and thought leadership we are able to provide a unique examination of education policy in your state. Our consulting services include non-partisan testimony, one-on-one meetings with policymakers, external publication campaigns, and much more. 

“The Reason team’s deep subject knowledge and eagerness to explain the value of student-centered funding to my colleagues in the statehouse was critical to the success of the reform effort.

—Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Reason Foundation’s role in passing the Tennessee Investment in Students Act.


The Team 

Aaron Smith

Director of Education Reform Aaron Smith has advised dozens of legislators and executive offices on the positive impacts of school finance and school choice reforms. Smith’s work is frequently featured in publications such as National Review, The Hill, and The 74

Christian Barnard
As a senior education policy analyst, Christian Barnard helps policymakers navigate often overly complex funding systems via data modeling and legislative analysis. Barnard has been featured in Education Next, RealClearEducation, and numerous local and national news publications as an expert voice on student transportation policy and student-centered funding. 

Ari DeWolf
The education team’s outreach manager, Ari DeWolf, has over a decade of experience working in state capitols and non-profits to advance sound public policy. An expert communicator, DeWolf can take the most complex policy questions and get your team the answers you need. 


Jude Schwalbach
Education Policy Analyst Jude Schwalbach is a leading voice on public school open enrollment policy and school choice. Schwalbach has spent years analyzing state and federal education policy and advocates for improved student mobility and outcomes. 

Jordan Campbell
Data Analyst Jordan Campbell builds interactive data dashboards and visualizations that distill thousands of data points into easy-to-understand charts that help educators and lawmakers compare their school districts and states with others. Campbell’s work includes an analysis of every state’s education revenue trends since 2002, in-depth modeling of changes to Arizona’s school finance system, and state public pension plan forecasts. 

Allison Tierney
As communications and outreach manager, Allison Tierney helps the education team reach parents, educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders with messages that resonate and convey the importance of putting students first. With years of legislative experience, Tierney also assists with producing and promoting policy briefs, email campaigns, columns and draft legislation.