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ERI Scholar of the Month

Dr. Frank Adamson

Dr. Frank Adamson joined the Ed.D. Doctoral Program faculty in 2018. In this program he teaches courses on research methods (qualitative and quantitative), educational finance, and educational leadership. He has expertise in education privatization, teacher compensation, and community engagement. He earned a Ph.D. in International Comparative Education and an M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University. He completed his B.A. in Comparative Literature (French and English) at Haverford College. Dr. Adamson is an “engaged” scholar whose research has practical, equity-oriented relevance in local and global contexts.

What’s the topic of your research?

Dr. Adamson is currently working on three intersecting projects. For the past decade, he has studied the increasing privatization in and of education, including defining the phenomenon, identifying where it occurs globally, and analyzing how it influences students, teachers, families, and governments. He recently published an education privatization primer entitled Balancing Priorities, with his Sacramento State research assistant and doctoral candidate, Meredith Galloway.

Related to his work on privatization, Dr. Adamson served as expert signatory for the global adoption of The Abidjan Principles in 2019 in Côte d’Ivoire. This set of guiding principles aggregates human rights law from different treaties and sources, focusing specifically on the right to education and the role of private actors in education. He is the lead editor and chapter author of the upcoming volume Realizing the Abidjan Principles on the Right to Education: Human Rights, Public Education, and the Role of Private Actors in Education, slated for publication by E. Elgar in June 2021.

Dr. Adamson also continues to work with the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder on a project called The Price of Opportunity. Dr. Adamson and the NEPC team are estimating the cost of education systems that would actually function as the great equalizer (thus delivering on the commitment to the human right to education).The team has conducted professional panels with Colorado education stakeholders and will present study results at the 2021 American Education Research Association annual meeting in April.

Why is your research important?

Dr. Adamson’s three strands of research connect within our broader societal vision of education and the obstacles and pathways to justice within that system. Beginning with Milton Friedman’s voucher schemes, education privatization has deployed the allegedly magic hand of the market in education, but the results have not served all students. Specifically, the role of private actors has often stratified education provision and precluded students and families from realizing their human right to education, which the Abidjan Principles now describe in rigorous detail. His "The Price of Opportunity" research determines the actual cost of asking our education system and schools to serve as community centers, health and food providers, and myriad other roles in addition to helping our students learn. Finally, Dr. Adamson has collaborated with a group of international scholars to launch The Alternatives Project, which names the greatest challenges of our time, such as racial and climate injustices, and envisions how education can, and must, contribute to societal transformation.

What are the implications for educators, professionals and/or the broader community?

Dr. Adamson believes strongly not only in making research accessible to different groups, but in including families and communities in developing the questions about their education systems that they want answered. In Oakland, CA, he interviewed multiple partners to identify key issues and produced research-based infographics that the community could easily understand and use as they advocated for increased educational opportunity.These and other materials are now available on his webpage. At the global level, Dr. Adamson will discuss his work on education privatization and the right to education in a series of upcoming webinars on Wednesdays in February and March, hosted by UNESCO’s International Institute for Education Planning (IIEP).

Explore Dr. Adamson's webpage