TC's Abrams Suggests Five Business Concepts For Education Reform | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation
News & Events Header

Teachers College Newsroom

Skip to content Skip to content

In L.A. Times, TC’s Abrams Suggests Five Business Concepts For Education Reform

Samuel E. Abrams, Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education
Samuel E. Abrams, Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education
In an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, Sam Abrams, director of TC’s National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education and author of Education and the Commercial Mindset (Harvard University Press, 2016), writes that Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, his nominee for Secretary of Education, both endorse private-market principles for education reform. But as a solution for the problems of public education, they don’t work, Abrams writes. The fundamental problem with the free-market model for education is that schools are not groceries.

Education is complex and the immediate consumer, after all, is a child or adolescent who can know only so much about how a subject should be taught. The parent, legislator and taxpayer are necessarily at a distance. Groceries, by contrast, are discrete goods purchased by adults who can easily judge each item according to taste, nutritional value and cost. Supermarkets can likewise be easily judged according to service, atmosphere and convenience.

But Abrams suggests five business ideas that school reformers should adopt. They should

  • Invest in high-quality early childhood education, because the returns are high;
  • Raise teachers’ salaries, because teachers' pay is correlated with educational outcomes;
  • Retain good teachers and groom administrators from within the ranks, instead of hiring outside administrators, because teacher turnover impairs student achievement;
  • Don't tie teachers’ pay to their performance, because studies have shown it doesn't work;
  • Instead of regular testing of all students, test small samples of students, a management concept created by W. Edwards Deming, the father of the modern Japanese auto industry. 

To read the piece, go here.

Published Tuesday, Jan 10, 2017

Samuel E. Abrams, Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education
Samuel E. Abrams, Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education
In an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, Sam Abrams, director of TC’s National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education and author of Education and the Commercial Mindset (Harvard University Press, 2016), writes that Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, his nominee for Secretary of Education, both endorse private-market principles for education reform. But as a solution for the problems of public education, they don’t work, Abrams writes. The fundamental problem with the free-market model for education is that schools are not groceries.

Education is complex and the immediate consumer, after all, is a child or adolescent who can know only so much about how a subject should be taught. The parent, legislator and taxpayer are necessarily at a distance. Groceries, by contrast, are discrete goods purchased by adults who can easily judge each item according to taste, nutritional value and cost. Supermarkets can likewise be easily judged according to service, atmosphere and convenience.

But Abrams suggests five business ideas that school reformers should adopt. They should

  • Invest in high-quality early childhood education, because the returns are high;
  • Raise teachers’ salaries, because teachers' pay is correlated with educational outcomes;
  • Retain good teachers and groom administrators from within the ranks, instead of hiring outside administrators, because teacher turnover impairs student achievement;
  • Don't tie teachers’ pay to their performance, because studies have shown it doesn't work;
  • Instead of regular testing of all students, test small samples of students, a management concept created by W. Edwards Deming, the father of the modern Japanese auto industry. 

To read the piece, go here.

How This Gift Connects The Dots
 
Scholarships & Fellowships
 
Faculty & Programs
 
Campus & Technology
 
Financial Flexibility
 
Engage TC Alumni & Friends