Samuel Abrams, director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, is a hardy soul. He agreed to debate Bob Bowdon, film-maker, pundit, and hater of all things public, in a debate sponsored by the libertarian publication Reason. The debate took place in July but it remains relevant.

Sam taught for many years in the New York City public schools, then wrote his academic thesis on the Edison Project, which grew into a book about for-profit education ventures called Education and the Commercial Mindset, published by Harvard University Press. The book is thoughtful, well-documented, and scholarly.

Bob Bowdon is a film-maker who made a name for himself as someone who despises public schools, teachers, and unions. He is a libertarian, and the crowd was with him from the start. Abrams was brave to go before a pro-choice crowd, and he won some of them over to the idea that there is actually something called the common good.

Bowdon, needless to say, is unfamiliar with the research about vouchers, and is unaware of research from Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana, and D.C. showing that students who take vouchers lose ground as compared to their peers who stay in public schools.

Here is a transcript of the debate.