Abrams, Samuel E. (sa307)

Abrams, Samuel E.

Adjunct Asst Professor
Director, National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education; Visiting Scholar, University of Turku, Finland, 2023-24

Office Location:

230 Thmps

Office Hours:

Wednesday, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., and by appointment

Scholarly Interests

Political Theory and Systems; School Finance; Comparative Education

Educational Background

Columbia, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

Selected Publications


Education and the Commercial Mindset (Harvard University Press, 2016; paperback, 2018; Chinese translation, 2022)


“The Trouble with Outsourcing School Management,” in Challenges in Classical Liberalism: Debating the Policies of Today Versus Tomorrow (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023)

"Återbesök i en fjärran spegel," in När skolan blev marknad (Natur och Kultur, 2022)

"Perspectives on School Vouchers," in Handbook of Research on School Choice, 2nd ed. (Routledge, 2020)

"Olika vägar i Norden," in Utbildningsekonomi: Om lärandets värde (Natur och Kultur, 2017)

Articles and Reports:

"Workforce Development in Finland and in the U.S.," Fulbright Finland News Magazine, Summer 2023

"The Fiscal Consequences of Private School Vouchers," Southern Poverty Law Center/Public Funds Public Schools, March 2023, co-authored with Steven J. Koutsavlis

"The Telling Gap in Carson v. Makin," National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, June 30, 2022

"Carson v. Makin Echoes Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue," National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, December 9, 2021

"NEPC Review: Florida versus Kentucky," National Education Policy Center, July 2021, co-authored with Steven J. Koutsavlis

"Les écoles publiques sous contrat risquent d'ajouter au phénomène de ségrégation," Le Monde, November 30, 2021, co-authored with Philippe Bongrand

"Getting Education Data Right: The Case of High School Admissions," Columbia Journalism Review, April 20, 2021

"The Importance of Measuring What Does Not Get Measured," NORRAG Special Issue No. 4: New Philanthropy and the Disruption of Global Education (April 2020): 140-142

"Exit, Voice, and Charter Schools," La Revista Jurídica de la Universidad de Puerto Rico 88:3 (May 2019): 895-919

"School Vouchers," in SAGE Encylopedia of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation (SAGE, 2018)

"The Real Data for NYC High School Admissions," National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, April 9, 2017

"The Wrong and Right Business Lessons for Schools," The Los Angeles Times, January 8, 2017

"The Mismeasure of Teaching Time," Working Paper, Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, January 2015

"Free School Lunch for All," The New York Times, April 15, 2014

"Puer Ludens: Learning and Playing in Finland," ATA Magazine, December 5, 2011

"Technology in Moderation," Teachers College Record, November 4, 2011

"The Children Must Play: What the U.S. Could Learn from Finland about Education Reform," The New Republic, January 28, 2011

Educational Privatization & School Choice (EDPE 4155), Teachers College, Fall 2023

Contemporary Civilization I (CC1101), Columbia College, Fall 2023

Political Philosophy & Education Policy (EDPP 6540), Teachers College, Spring 2024

Contemporary Civilization II (CC1102), Columbia College, Spring 2024


Holly Meyer, "Voucher Expansion Leads to More Students, Waitlists, and Classes for Some Religious Schools," Associated Press, March 3, 2024

Cindy Long, "What Can We Really Learn from the 2022 PISA Test Results?NEA Today, January 19, 2024

"What Will Happen to the Religious Charter School in Oklahoma?" Teachers College, December 5, 2023

Alia Wong, "American Classrooms Need More Educators; Can Virtual Teachers Step in to Bridge the Gap?USA Today, August 31, 2023

Sarah Mervosh, "$7,200 for Every Student: Arizona's Ultimate Experiment in School Choice," The New York Times, July 24, 2023 (citing The Fiscal Consequences of Private School Vouchers)

Tim Walker, "'Lose Your School, You Lose Your Town': Educators in Rural States Mobilize Against Vouchers," NEA Today, May 12, 2023

Laura Hancock, "Ohio Is One of 5 States Looking to Expand Private School Vouchers this Year,The Plain Dealer, April 16, 2023

Rebecca Gaunt, "Report Documents 'Explosive Growth' in Georgia's School Voucher Spending; Georgia Bill Could Expand That Further," Cobb County Courrier, March 27, 2023

Libby Stanford and Mark Lieberman, "Education Savings Accounts, Explained," Education Week, March 27, 2023

Megan Pauly, "Education Savings Accounts: Unpacking a New Republican-Led Bill," Virginia Public Media News, January 6, 2023

Audrey Fisné-Koch, "Charter schools: dans les écoles publiques américaines, les acteurs privés prennent le relais," Pour L'Éco, September 6, 2022

Mark Lieberman, "Contractors Are Filling Staffing Gaps in Schools; Know the Benefits and the Drawbacks," Education Week, June 29, 2022

Callie Patteson and Cayla Bamberger, "SCOTUS Overturns Maine Law Barring Religious Schools from Tuition Aid," The New York Post, June 21, 2022

Alyson Klein, "Using Virtual Teachers to Fill Vacancies: Smart Solution or Big Mistake?," Education Week, May 26, 2022

Erin Einhorn, "Betsy DeVos Might Finally Get Her Wish for Private School Vouchers in Michigan," NBC News, March 26, 2022

Madeleine Carlisle and Katie Reilly, "This Supreme Court Case Could Take a 'Wrecking Ball' to Separation of Church and State," Time, December 6, 2021

Guest Lecture, "La privatisation dans les politiques éducatives aux États-Unis: Tendances et points de vue," CY Cergy Paris University, Ocober 26, 2021

Amy Halpern-Laff and Jon Moscow, "Critical Analysis: Not Just for Students," Ethical Schools, Podcast, May 20, 2021

Peter Georgiev, "Data Journalism Top 10," Global Investigative Journalism Network, April 30, 2021

Alvin Roth, "Selective NYC High Schools Aren't as Hard to Get Into as Is Sometimes Reported," Market Design, April 28, 2021

Lora Kelley, "The Dark Side of Box Tops for Education," The Atlantic, April 7, 2021

Amy Halpern-Laff and Jon Moscow, "Dodging Responsibility for Our Children," Ethical Schools, Podcast, December 17, 2020

Marlene Sokol, "Tampa Bay Charter Schools Are Growing During the Pandemic," The Tampa Bay Times, December 10, 2020 

Arno Rosenfield, "Betsy DeVos Loved Religious Education-What Will Happen to Jewish Schools Under Biden?," The Forward, December 4, 2020

Leslie Brody, "Education Guru Chris Whittle Tries a Comeback With New School in Brooklyn," The Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2019

Tim Walker, "Jobs Threatened by Privatization, Educators and Their Allies Strike Back," NEA Today, November 1, 2019

Jim Rendon, "Can Controversial Entrepreneur Chris Whittle Create a New Model for Private Schools?," The Washington Post Magazine, October 23, 2019

Lynn Hatter, "Richard Corcoran's School Choice Agenda Riles Local Leaders, Unions," WFSU, August 27, 2019

Lakshi De Vass Gunawardena, "Finland's Education System Leads Globally," Inter Press Service, July 22, 2019

Carola Mamberto and Lorena Pieri, "Ecco le scuole dei riechi: 40 mila euro l'anno per studiare solo con i potenti," L'Espresso, January 17, 2019

Sam Tanenhaus, "The Strange Ascent of Betsy DeVos and Erik Prince," Vanity Fair, September 6, 2018

Violette Goarant, "Privatisation de l'école, le fiasco suédois," Le Monde Diplomatique, September 1, 2018

Sam Tanenhaus, "Can Chris Whittle Launch a Truly Global School?," Town & Country, July 10, 2018

Adriana De Jesús Salamán, "Profesor estadounidense aborda áreas grises de las 'charters'," NotiCel, March 10, 2018

Sarah Butrymowicz, "Betsy DeVos's School Choice Ideas Are a Reality in Sweden," Hechinger Report, February 28, 2018

Heikki Kettunen, "Samuel Abrams: Koulutuksen mittarit voivat korruptoida opetusta," University of Turku, February 23, 2018

Jim Cuddy, "Will Public Schools Survive Betsy DeVos?" America's Democrats, Podcast 367, February 18, 2018

Reed Karaim, "Privatizing Government Services: Do Business-Run Public Services Save Taxpayers Money?CQ Researcher, December 8, 2017

Gary D. Robertson, "North Carolina a Leader in State Vouchers for Private School," Associated Press, December 1, 2017

Monica Disare, "Why Do Some New York City Schools Get to Choose Their Students?Chalkbeat, November 6, 2017

Irene Plagianos, "WeWork Is Launching a Grade School for Budding Entrepreneurs," Bloomberg, November 6, 2017

Graham Vyse, "Ralph Northam Is Taking on Betsy DeVos--by Breaking with Barack Obama," The New Republic, October 19, 2017

Heather Vogell, "For-Profit Schools Reward Students for Referrals and Facebook Endorsements," ProPublica, October 6, 2017

Wendy Paris, "Dear New York Times: Please Don't Hype the High School Admissions Process Again," Phi Delta Kappan, September 28, 2017

Maria Danilova, "Study: Florida Private School Choice Program Sees Gains," Associated Press, September 27, 2017

Natasha Singer, "Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues," The New York Times, September 2, 2017

Jim Epstein and Ian Keyser, "Is School Choice Good for Kids? Listen to Last Night's Debate," Reason.com, July 12, 2017

Leo Casey, "The Warped Logic of School Privatization," Dissent, Summer 2017

Emery P. Dalesio, "States Test Worksite Charter Schools for Company Kids," Associated Press, June 17, 2017

C-SPAN2, "School Choice," Education Writers Association National Seminar, Georgetown University, June 1, 2017

Monica Disare, "New York City's High School Applicant Stats Paint a Misleading Picture, Columbia Researcher Says," Chalkbeat, May 30, 2017

Jeremy Hobson, "Why There's a Renewed Push to Privatize Public Education," National Public Radio, May 9, 2017

Maria Danilova, "Study: DC Voucher Program Shows Poorer Math Results," Associated Press, April 27, 2017

Maria Danilova, "Trump, DeVos Tour Private School in Florida, Promoting School Choice," Associated Press, March 3, 2017

Emily DeRuy, "In Finland, Kids Learn Computer Science Without Computers," The Atlantic, February 23, 2017

Halla Hardardóttir, "Skólar eru ekki matvara (og kennarar ekki grænmeti)," Fréttatíminn, January 19, 2017

Päivi Repo, "Huippututkija kehuu Suomen kouluja, mutta murehtii nuorten kykyä keskittyä," Helsingin Sanomat, January 13, 2017

Alexander Nazaryan, "Betsy DeVos Is Coming for Your Public Schools," Newsweek, January 10, 2017

Diane Ravitch, "When Public Goes Private, as Trump Wants: What Happens?," The New York Review of Books, December 8, 2016

Valerie Strauss, "Matt Damon Explains Why He Made This Surprising New Film," The Washington Post, October 28, 2016

Kristina Rizga, "Will Hillary Clinton's Education Policy Break from Obama's in a Huge Way?," Mother Jones, September 9, 2016

Valerie Strauss, "Why the Movement to Privatize Public Education is a Very Bad Idea," Washington Post, July 14, 2016

Laura Saarikoski, "Amerikkalaisen huippuyliospiston tutkija Pisa-tuloksista," Helsingin Sanomat, April 11, 2016

Megan Tompkins-Stange, "Educaton and the Commercial Mindset," Teachers College Record, October 19, 2016

"Sam Abrams, Finnish Knight, Defender of Children's Right to Play," Teachers College Newsroom, April 16, 2015

Sarah D. Sparks, "Study Faults Data on U.S. Teachers' Instruction Time," Education Week, February 4, 2015

International Education News, "Teaching Time in the U.S.," January 28, 2015

Matti Saarinen, "Tips from the United States for Improving Our Education System," The Helsinki Times, August 14, 2014

International Education News
, "The Broader Context of School Choice in Sweden," August 8, 2014

Robin L. Flanigan, "Publicly Traded Ed. Companies Are Rare," Education Week, February 21, 2012

Anu Partanen, "What Americans Keep Ignoring about Finland's School Success," The Atlantic, December 29, 2011

Rosemary Shinohara, "Education Expert Offers Views after Visiting Alaska Schools," Anchorage Daily News, December 25, 2011

Rosemary Shinohara, "Mayor's Education Summit Told Teacher Quality is Crucial," Anchorage Daily News, November 15, 2011

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