Henry “Hank” Levin

HENRY “HANK” LEVIN is the William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University and David Jacks Professor of Higher Education and Economics Emeritus at Stanford University. He is also the director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education and co-director of The Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education. Having lectured widely in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, Levin began his career at the Brookings Institution where he also worked as a long-term substitute teacher in the Washington, D. C. public school system.

As the founder and director of the Accelerated Schools Project, Levin championed increased access to challenging curricula for at-risk children, a model now used in about 1,000 schools in the United States and abroad. Having written more than 300 articles and authored or edited twenty books, Levin is also a committee member for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the National Research Council, and the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Levin has written extensively about economic issues in education including privatization, school choice, and the social costs of inadequate education.

For more information, visit Henry Levin’s Website. To learn more about Hank Levin from his family and friends, visit his Reflections. To view photographs from Hank Levin’s personal collection, visit his Photo Gallery.


Visit the video below to watch a short overview of the interview with Hank Levin. Otherwise, see all six of the full interviews with Hank Levin below.

Video Interviews with Henry “Hank” Levin:

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Dr. Henry “Hank” Levin grew up in an “active household” in New Jersey as one of six children including his twin sister. Inspired by his mother, a college graduate, and father, the owner of a modest furniture store, to study business at New York University, Levin recalls his adolescent experiences in the neighborhood public schools—he was both a talented distance runner and class clown. Having surprised his high school teachers by earning exceptionally high SAT scores, along with Levin’s experiences selling insurance and clothing prompted him to pursue a graduate degree in economics. Watch this clip to hear more about Dr. Levin’s journey to academia and belief in a purposeful education.

Having actively protested the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War, Dr. Henry “Hank” Levin has long served as a funding advocate for social programs, specifically public education. First gaining practical experience as a long-term substitute teacher in an urban high school in Washington, D. C., Levin also wrote extensively about the drain of war spending on public finances. Through his work at the Brookings Institution and later Stanford University, Levin pioneered the study of economics in education. In this clip, learn more about Dr. Levin’s experiences “at the street level” as a school board member and concerned citizen.

Considered a pioneer in the study of economics in education, Dr. Henry “Hank” Levin worked closely with his colleague Dr. Martin Carnoy to support greater democracy in the workplace. Having challenged models whereby schools exist solely to produce labor power for the capitalist system, Levin considers schools to be part of the state with greater equality than is found in the workplace. Believing social movements to be “the most powerful tool of democracy,” Levin continues to examine issues of cost effectiveness in school while acknowledging that “we haven’t come very far” in some areas of education reform. Watch this clip to learn more about opportunities for social movements in America’s public schools from Dr. Levin.

Determined to increase access to challenging curriculum for “at-risk” children, Dr. Henry “Hank” Levin and his colleagues worked tirelessly to develop the Accelerated Schools Project based on a model since used by more than 1,100 schools in 41 states and Hong Kong. The project, though challenged by the regulatory No Child Left Behind legislation, continues to serve disadvantaged students through acceleration rather than “the repair shop” of remediation. When watching this clip, be prepared to enjoy humorous stories about Dr. Levin from his children and share his desire to better understand cultures from around the world.

Disappointed in the outcomes of school choice, Dr. Henry “Hank” Levin admits that the differences between charter and public schools have been very small. While he had once hoped that charter schools would serve as “incubators of ideas,” Levin notes that many have reproduced social stratification instead. Despite these concerns, Levin continues to believe that schools ruled by “ideas, excitement, and collaboration” can teach students to work together in a democratic society. Tune in to learn more about Dr. Levin’s vision for education and plans for old age!

Described by his family and friends as both humble and humorous, Dr. Henry “Hank” Levin insists that he “is a very lucky person.” His favorite words—passion and enthusiasm—exemplify his commitment to his work as an educational researcher and scholar. Advising graduate students to “go with what you think is important” when framing their own professional goals, Levin demonstrates his desire to positively impact students and schools by spending years working “in the trenches.” Watch this clip to hear Dr. Levin hum a tune from his favorite movie and share his message for the President of the United States.

Amrein-Beardsley, A. (2011, December 2). Inside the Academy video interviews with Dr. Henry Levin [Video files]. Retrieved from http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/henry-hank-levin