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NEPC Topic Experts on Charter Schools

Samuel E. Abrams

Teachers College, Columbia University

Samuel E. Abrams is the director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the author of Education and the Commercial Mindset (Harvard University Press, 2016). He was previously a high school history teacher for 18 years and now teaches courses in the economics and politics of education at Teachers College and in moral and political philosophy as part of the Core Curriculum faculty at Columbia College. For his advancement of the understanding of Finnish education in the United States, he was made a Knight, First Class, Order of the Lion of Finland, by the Finnish government in 2014. His current research projects include a study funded by the Southern Poverty Law Center concerning the impact of vouchers and tuition tax credit scholarships on public school budgets. He earned a B.A. in history, an M.A. in economics and education, and a Ph.D. in politics and education from Columbia.

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Frank Adamson

California State University, Sacramento

Frank Adamson is Assistant Professor of Education Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University, Sacramento. He currently studies the effects of different political and economic approaches to education on student experiences and their performance in schools. His latest research examines international and U.S. saturation levels of education privatization and its implications for education equity. His volume Global Education Reform compares the approaches of privatization and public investment to education policy in six countries. Dr. Adamson has also studied the impact of charter school reform on students and communities in both Oakland and New Orleans. Previously, he published on the adoption of assessments of deeper learning and 21st century skills at the state, national, and international levels, as well as on teacher salary differences within metropolitan labor markets in New York and California. He has also completed studies for the USDOE, OECD, IEA, and UNESCO, including analyses of PISA and TIMSS, and has authored or co-authored 3 books and 40 publications.

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Michael K. Barbour

Touro University California

Michael K. Barbour is Associate Professor of Instructional Design for the College of Education and Health Sciences at Touro University California. He has been involved with K-12 online learning in a variety of countries for well over a decade as a researcher, teacher, course designer and administrator. Michael's research focuses on the effective design, delivery and support of K-12 online learning, particularly for students located in rural jurisdictions.

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Robert Bifulco

Syracuse University

Robert Bifulco is the Associate Dean, Chair, and Professor in the Public Administration and International Affairs department at the Maxwell School, as well as a Senior Research Associate in the Center for Policy Research. His research has focused on the evaluation of educational policies including whole-school reform, school accountability programs, charter schools, magnet schools, and student assignment policies. 

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Derek W. Black

University of South Carolina

Derek Black is one of the nation’s foremost experts in education law and policy.  He focuses on educational equality, school funding, the constitutional right to education, segregation, and the federal role in schools. He has published over thirty scholarly articles in the nation’s top legal journals, including the flagship journals at Yale, Stanford, New York University, California-Berkeley, Cornell, Northwestern and Vanderbilt. That work has been cited several times in the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. It has also drawn him into litigation disputes over school funding and federal policy, where he has served as an expert witness and consultant.

He is currently a Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina, where he holds the Ernest F. Hollings Chair in Constitutional Law and directs the Constitutional Law Center. He began his career in teaching at Howard University School of Law, where he founded and directed the Education Rights Center. Prior to teaching, he litigated education cases at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.   

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Katrina Bulkley

Montclair State University

Katrina Bulkley is Professor of Educational Leadership at Montclair State University. Her research examines the intersection of policy and leadership in efforts to increase market-linked ideas in education and enhance accountability and data-driven change. She studies issues around the increasing use of new governance structures and non-public actors to improve public education (with a particular focus on urban education). Her recent studies have focused on the role of new actors in the delivery of public education and the preparation of public educators, and how the work of these new actors is changing the shape of public education from the national to the school level.

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Kristen L. Buras

Georgia State University

Kristen Buras is an Associate Professor in Educational Policy Studies at Georgia State University. She is the author of Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space: Where the Market Meets Grassroots Resistance. Additionally, Buras is coauthor of Pedagogy, Policy, and the Privatized City: Stories of Dispossession and Defiance from New Orleans, recognized for its outstanding contribution by the Curriculum Studies Division of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She has spent almost two decades studying the development of the nation’s first all-charter-school district in New Orleans. Buras has worked extensively with communities there and is regularly contacted by school board members, teachers, parent groups, education activists, and journalists from cities across the nation for her expertise on the “New Orleans model” of education reform and its effects on local communities. She is director of Urban South Grassroots Research Collective for Public Education and was granted the Distinguished Scholar-Activist Award by Critical Educators for Social Justice of AERA. Her research has been published in Harvard Educational Review, Peabody Journal of Education, Race Ethnicity and Education, and elsewhere. Likewise, Buras has spoken by invitation at universities such as Columbia, Dillard, Fordham, Loyola, Harvard, and Tulane, and as part of community-based forums in New Orleans, Nashville, Milwaukee, and elsewhere. Buras is past associate editor of the Journal of Education Policy. Her other books include Rightist Multiculturalism: Core Lessons on Neoconservative School Reformand The Subaltern Speak: Curriculum, Power, and Educational Struggles, co-edited with Michael Apple.

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Sean P. Corcoran

Vanderbilt University

Sean P. Corcoran is Associate Professor of Public Policy & Education, and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Corcoran conducts research in applied microeconomics, specifically the economics of education and state and local public finance. His published papers have examined long-run trends in teacher quality, the impact of income inequality and school finance reform on education funding in the United States, the properties of “value-added” measures of teacher effectiveness, and the high school choices of middle school students in New York City. Together with colleagues at Princeton, Columbia, and Seton Hall, he recently fielded several large-scale randomized controlled trials of information supports for school choice in NYC.

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Walter C. Farrell, Jr.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr. heads a management, education, and litigation consultant group.  He earned a B.A. degree from North Carolina Central University, a Masters and Ph.D from Michigan State University, and a post-doctoral Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He most recently served as Professor of Community Management & Policy Practice in the School of Social Work, Associate Director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center in the Kenan Institute in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, and as a Fellow in the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He was previously Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Policy & Community Studies in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an adjunct professor in the Departments of Curriculum & Instruction, Urban Studies, and Allied Health.

Dr. Farrell has served as a consultant to NEA, AFT, and their state and local affiliates.

Dr. Farrell has published numerous essays and articles on K-12 education, the agenda to privatize public schools, diversity, social and immigration issues, and death penalty mitigation.  He has appeared on National Public Radio (NPR)—The Connection and the Today Show (with Matt Lauer) to discuss public education (vouchers, charters, and school privatization).  He currently writes a weekly column, “Defending Public Education,” for Black Commentator, an online Journal

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Erica Frankenberg

Pennsylvania State University

Erica Frankenberg is an associate professor of education and demography at the Pennsylvania State University, and co-director of the Center for Education and Civil Rights. Her research interests focus on racial desegregation and inequality in K-12 schools, including how school choice policies affect students’ stratification and equal opportunity.

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Bruce Fuller

University of California, Berkeley

Bruce Fuller is professor of education and public policy, University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on early learning in diverse families and how institutions struggle to serve pluralistic communities. His forthcoming book is After the State and Market, a study of successful, decentralizing organizations (University of Chicago Press). Fuller is author of Standardized Childhood and Government Confronts Culture. A former research sociologist at the World Bank, he taught at Harvard University before returning to California.

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Edward J. Fuller

Penn State University

Edward J. Fuller is an Associate Professor in the Education Leadership Department at Penn State University. He is also the Director of the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy Analysis as well as the Associate Director for Policy of the University Council for Educational Administration.

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David R. Garcia

Arizona State University

David R. Garcia is an Associate Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. His academic publications focus on school choice, accountability, and the factors that facilitate or distort policy implementation in public education. Most recently, his book, Essential Knowledge: School Choice was published by the MIT Press. Garcia's professional experience includes extensive work in education policy development and implementation, including as the former Associate Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state of Arizona.

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Gene V Glass

San José State University

Gene V Glass is a lecturer in the Connie L. Lurie College of Education of San José State University. He is also currently a Senior Researcher at the National Education Policy Center and a Regents' Professor Emeritus from Arizona State University. Trained originally in statistics, his interests broadened to include psychotherapy research, evaluation methodology, and policy analysis. He was twice (1968, 1970) honored with the Palmer O. Johnson award of the American Educational Research Association; and in 1984, he received the Paul Lazarsfeld Award of the American Evaluation Association. He is a recipient of the Cattell Award of the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology. His work on meta-analysis of psychotherapy outcomes (with M.L. Smith) was named as one of the Forty Studies that Changed Psychology in the book of the same name by Roger R. Hock (1999). His Ph.D. was awarded in 1965 by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in educational psychology with a minor in mathematical statistics. His more recent contributions to the analysis of education policy include Fertilizers, Pills and Magnetic Strips: The Fate of Public Education in America (2008), and 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America's Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education (2014) with D. C. Berliner & Associates. 

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Preston Green

University of Connecticut

Preston Green is the John and Carla Klein Professor of Urban Education at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education. He is also a professor of educational leadership and law at the University of Connecticut.

Before coming to the University of Connecticut, he was the Harry Lawrence Batschelet II Chair Professor of Educational Administration at Penn State, where he was also a professor of education and law and the program coordinator of Penn State's educational leadership program. In addition, Dr. Green was the creator of Penn State's joint degree program in law and education. Further, he ran the Law and Education Institute at Penn State, a professional development program that teaches, administrators, and attorneys about educational law.

Dr. Green has written four books and numerous articles and book chapters pertaining to educational law. He primarily focuses on the legal and policy issues pertaining to educational access and school choice. He holds an Ed.D. in Educational Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University and a J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law.

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Julian Vasquez Heilig

University of Kentucky

Julian Vasquez Heilig is the Dean and a Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation at the University of Kentucky College of Education.

His current research includes quantitatively and qualitatively examining how high-stakes testing and accountability-based reforms and market reforms impact urban minority students. Julian’s research interests also include issues of access, diversity, and equity in higher education.

He obtained his Ph.D. in Education Administration and Policy Analysis and a Masters in Sociology from Stanford University. He also holds a Masters of Higher Education and a Bachelor’s of History and Psychology from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

He blogs at Cloaking Inequity, consistently rated one of the top 50 education websites in the world by Teach100.

Email Julian Vasquez Heilig at:

Luis Huerta

Teachers College, Columbia University

Luis A. Huerta is an associate professor of education and public policy at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research and scholarship focus on issues of decentralization related to school choice reforms, as well as the impact of school finance inequities on implementing school reform. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Gordon Lafer

University of Oregon

Gordon Lafer is a political economist and a Professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center. He has written widely on issues of labor and employment policy, and his most recent book is The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America, One State at a Time (Cornell University Press, 2017).  Lafer has served as an economic policy analyst for the Office of the Mayor in New York City and has testified as an expert witness before the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, and state legislatures. Lafer is the founding co-chair of the American Political Science Association’s Labor Project, and has taught as a visiting faculty member at the University of Massachusetts’ Union Leadership Academy and at the Universidad Latina de America in Michoacan, Mexico. In 2009–2010, Lafer took leave from his faculty position to serve as Senior Labor Policy Advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor. In 2011, he became a Research Associate at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC. In 2019, Lafer was elected to the school board in Eugene, Oregon.

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Jaekyung Lee

University at Buffalo, SUNY

Jaekyung Lee, PhD, is a professor and former dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. A fellow of the prestigious American Educational Research Association (AERA), Lee is an internationally recognized leader in educational policy, accountability and equity, and international and comparative education. He has a PhD in education from the University of Chicago. Lee is currently a Richard P. Nathan Fellow of the Rockefeller Institute of Government. He was also a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and a fellow of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the recipient of 2007 AERA Raymond B. Cattell Early Career Award and 2015 Western New York Educational Service Council Robert W. Heller Award. Lee is the author of "The Anatomy of Achievement Gaps: Why and How American Education is Losing (But Can Still Win) the War on Underachievement" (Oxford University Press).

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Julie F. Mead

University of Wisconsin at Madison

Julie Fisher Mead is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Dr. Mead researches and writes about topics related to the legal aspects of education. Her research centers on legal issues related to special education and legal issues raised by various forms of school choice, including charter schools and vouchers.

Email Julie Fisher Mead at:

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Gary Miron

Western Michigan University

Gary Miron is professor of evaluation, measurement, and research at Western Michigan University. He has extensive experience evaluating school reforms and education policies. Over the past two decades he has conducted several studies of school choice programs in Europe and in the United States, including nine state evaluations of charter school reforms. In recent years, his research has increasingly focused on the education management organizations (EMOs) and efforts to create systemic change in urban schools in Michigan and rural schools in Louisiana. Prior to coming to Western Michigan University, Dr. Miron worked for 10 years at Stockholm University in Sweden.

Email Gary Miron at:

Tel. 269-599-7965

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Alex Molnar

University of Colorado Boulder

Alex Molnar is NEPC Publications Director, Director of the Commercialism in Education Research Unit (CERU), and Research Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has published numerous articles on social and educational policy and practice. For the past three decades, he has studied and written about commercial activities in schools. Molnar has also researched the impact of reduced class size on student achievement and market-based school reforms such as private school vouchers, charter schools, virtual schools, and for-profit schools. Molnar has a B.A. in history, political science, and education; two masters degrees, one in history and one in social welfare; a Specialist's Certificate in educational administration; and a Ph.D. in urban education. His most recent book, Sold Out: How Marketing in School Threatens Children's Well-Being and Undermines their Education, with Faith Boninger, was released in 2015. 

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John L. Myers

JL Myers Consulting

John L. Myers is an education policy consultant. He has worked with state policymakers in all 50 states on a broad range of State Education policy issues. His research focus is on state school finance equity and adequacy. Myers' expertise is in state school funding formulas, teacher quality issues, education governance, and community education policy. He has been a State Legislator, a Governor’s Policy Director, and the Education Program Director for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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Yongmei Ni

University of Utah

Yongmei Ni is a professor and the chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah. She also serves as an Assistant Director at the Utah Education Policy Center. Her research examines educational policies related to school choice to improve education access, equity, and effectiveness for all students, and the importance of school leadership and leadership preparation programs. Her policy research has examined various issues related to the effects of charter school policies on racial/ethnic segregation and social stratification, effectiveness, resource allocation, teacher working conditions, teacher and principal labor markets. As part of the Initiative for Systemic Program Improvement through Research in Educational (INSPIRE) Leadership research collaborative team, her recent research explores the quality of leadership preparation programs and their impact on graduate learning and their leadership practices in schools.
She has published articles in journals such as Educational Administration Quarterly, American Journal of Education, Economics of Education Review, Teachers College Record, Educational Policy, Journal of Educational Administration, and Journal of Educational Finance. She was a 2012-2013 National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer postdoctoral Fellow. In 2013, she received the William J. Davis Award for the most outstanding Educational Administration Quarterly article of the year. She obtained her Ph.D. in Education Policy and Master’s degree in Economics from Michigan State University.

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Joydeep Roy

New York City Independent Budget Office and Columbia University

Joydeep Roy is a senior economist at the New York City Independent Budget Office and a visiting professor at Columbia University. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University. His primary research interests include public economics and public policy, economics of education, labor economics, economic development and political economy. His current research focuses on school choice and accountability, school finance and adequacy issues, teacher labor markets and topics in higher education. In recent work, he has looked at the effect of school finance reform in Michigan, high school graduation rates and the phenomenon of early admissions to U.S. colleges and universities. In ongoing research, he is investigating teacher mobility patterns, the relative efficacy of charter schools and the intended and unintended consequences of merit aid programs.

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Kenneth Saltman

University of Illinois at Chicago

Kenneth Saltman is a Professor of Educational Policy Studies at University of Illinois at Chicago. His interests include the political economy and cultural politics of public school privatization. His work also explains how the privatization movement in education is part of the broader movement to undermine public democratic power and expand global corporate power.

He is the author and editor of numerous books on educational policy and politics including Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools, The Gift of Education: Public Education and Venture Philanthropy, The Edison Schools, Education as Enforcement: the Militarization and Corporatization of Schools, The Failure of Corporate School Reform, The Politics of Education: A Critical Introduction, and Toward a New Common School Movement.  His most recent book (2016) is Scripted Bodies: Corporate Power, Smart Technologies, and the Undoing of Public Education.

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Janelle T. Scott

University of California, Berkeley

Janelle Scott is a Professor and the Robert C. and Mary Catherine Birgeneau Distinguished Chair in Educational Disparities at the University of California at Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education, African American Studies Department, and Goldman School of Public Policy. She earned a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of California at Los Angeles’ Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley. Before earning her doctorate, she was a teacher in Oakland, California. 

Professor Scott’s research investigates how market-based educational reforms affect democratic accountability and equity in public education. She has explored this research program across several policy strands: 1) the racial politics of public education, 2) the politics of school choice, marketization, and privatization, 3) the politics of research evidence on market-oriented reforms, and, 4) the role of elite and community-based advocacy in shaping public education and research evidence utilization. Her work has appeared in several edited books and journals, including the Peabody Journal of Education, Educational Policy, Qualitative Inquiry, the American Educational Research Journal, and the Harvard Educational Review.

She was awarded a Spencer Dissertation Year Fellowship, and a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. In 2014, she was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Committee on Scholars of Color.  In 2020, she was elected as an AERA Fellow. She is Vice President for Division L (Policy and Politics) of AERA (2019-2022). She is the editor of School choice and diversity: What the evidence says (2005 Teachers College Press), and, with Sonya Horsford and Gary Anderson, author of The Politics of Education in an Era of Inequality: Possibilities for democratic schooling (2018 Routledge). 

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P.L. Thomas

Furman University

Paul Thomas, Professor of Education, taught high school English in rural South Carolina before moving to teacher education. Recent books include Parental Choice?: A Critical Reconsideration of Choice and the Debate about Choice (Information Age Publishing, 2010) and 21st Century Literacy: If We Are Scripted, Are We Literate? (Springer, 2009) co-authored with Renita Schmidt. He maintains a blog addressing the role of poverty in education: His teaching and scholarship focus on literacy and the impact of poverty on education, as well as confronting the political dynamics influencing public education in the U.S. His work can be followed at

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Kevin G. Welner

University of Colorado Boulder

NEPC director Kevin G. Welner is a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Education, specializing in policy and law. He and Alex Molnar founded NEPC in 2010. Welner has authored or edited 12 books and more than 100 research articles and book chapters concerning education policy and law. His books include Education and the Law (2016, coauthored with Stuart Biegel and Bob Kim); Closing the opportunity gap: What America must do to give every child an even chance (2013, co-edited with Prudence Carter); NeoVouchers: The emergence of tuition tax credits for private schooling (2008); and Legal rights, local wrongs: When community control collides with educational equity (2001). He is an AERA Fellow and has received the AERA’s Early Career Award, its Palmer O. Johnson Award, its Outstanding Public Communication of Education Research Award, the Horace Mann League’s Outstanding Public Educator Award, the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Residency, and the NAEd/Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellowship. He received his B.A. in Biological Sciences from UCSB and his J.D. and Ph.D. from UCLA.

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Terrenda White

University of Colorado Boulder

Terrenda White is an Assistant Professor of Education Policy and Practice at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her work is grounded in sociology of education, and currently explores the impact of choice and competition on teachers’ instructional practices, particularly multicultural practices for diverse students. Her latest project examines the organizational conditions of charter schools with chronically low or high rates of teacher turnover, including voluntary and involuntary departures by teachers of color. Dr. White’s most recent work examines racially diverse charter schools, including the mechanisms these schools use to maintain diverse populations and the manner of school practices employed to foster meaningful integration. Dr. White is a former elementary school teacher, a first generation college graduate, and one of the inaugural recipients of the Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship in 2000. Her dissertation earned the National Academy of Education fellowship in 2013-2014.

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