School Choice Is A Moral and Financial Imperative

Q&A with school reformer Lisa Graham Keegan.


"Education is how people fulfill their humanity," says school reformer Lisa Graham Keegan. "School choice meets that need precisely."

As the former superintendent of public instruction in Arizona, Keegan sponsored one of the most comprehensive charter school laws in existence, helped define state education standards, and reformed school financing so that money more closely follows the students for whom it is intended.

She now heads the Keegan Company, consults on various education reform efforts, and serves as executive director of A for Arizona, which aims to increase charter school quality in the state'"particularly for low-income students. School choices, says Keegan, "gives people their own capacity'"their ability to give back."

Her 2013 memoir, Simple Choices: Thoughts on Choosing Environments that Support Who Your Child is Meant to Beoffers a revealing and powerful personal account of how her life's challenges affected her ideas about education reform.

She recently sat down with Reason TV's Nick Gillespie during the annual meeting of the State Policy Network to discuss the moral and practical cases for school choice.

Watch the video above for the full interview, which covers the following topics:

:58—The moral case for school choice.
1:35 – The difference between market-driven and public school models.
2:39 – Moving to "backpack funding," where money follows students to their school of choice.
4:54 – The impact of Arizona's school funding reforms and scholarship programs.
6:33 – The reforms' effect on students of different socioeconomic backgrounds.
7:53 – The growth of high-achievement charter schools.
9:00 – The biggest impediments to school choice, including local control, taxes and spending.
10:56 – How to avoid confrontation with local school boards in order to fund charters.
11:52 – School accountability, including standards and testing.
15:12 – Common Core.
16:11 – Whether the Republicans really are the party of school choice.
17:03 – How Keegan's family and upbringing led her to school choice advocacy.

About 19 minutes.

Interview by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Justin Monticello. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Alexis Garcia. Music by RW Smith.

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