Sam Abrams on Why Privatization of Public Schools is a "Very Bad Idea" | Teachers College Columbia University

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TC's Sam Abrams to Washington Post: "Privatization of Public Schools Amounts to a Flawed Response to State Failure"


The Washington Post's July 14, 2016 Answer Sheet blog featured a Q&A with TC's Samuel E. Abrams, director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, about privatization of public schools and his recently published book, Education and the Commercial Mindset (Harvard University Press).

In the Q&A with the Answer Sheet’s Valerie Strauss, Abrams explains that the book began as his thesis on for-profit school management for a master’s degree in economics and education at Teachers College. “My adviser, Henry M. Levin, recommended I turn the thesis into a book,” Abrams told Strauss.

“Though daunted by the prospect of doing so, I forged ahead because I was and remain convinced that advocates of the free market had taken their argument too far,” Abrams says in the interview.

“Where there is insufficient transparency for proper contract enforcement, the free market fails. In the case of schooling, which is a classic complex service, the direct consumer is a child, who is in little position to judge whether classes are being properly taught.”

“Privatization accordingly amounts to a flawed response to state failure, not a solution,” Abrams says. “The solution calls for investing the resources necessary to make all neighborhood schools solid in the way all neighborhood schools are solid in middle- and upper-class suburbs, with well-paid teachers, good working conditions and smaller classes.” 

Read the Q&A here.

Published Monday, Jul 18, 2016

Sam Abrams
Sam Abrams