Sector distinctions and the privatization of public education policymaking

Christopher Lubienski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current trends indicate declining distinctions between ‘public’ and ‘private’ sectors in education. Reformers see sector barriers as unnecessary impediments to innovation, distracting attention and effort from ‘what works’. This analysis questions whether trends in education policy are simply a natural evolution away from state control of public goods, noting the agency involved in blurring the boundaries between sectors. While the weakening of public and private distinctions is real and substantial, there are reasons for researchers and policymakers to rely on these distinctions in understanding education policy and policymaking, not so much as principles that should guide policymaking, but as means for analyzing competing interests, agendas, and beneficiaries of policies. In that respect, education policymaking itself is being privatized through a significant shift toward private interests in the making of public policy for public education. The analysis focuses on the central role that some private philanthropies play in shaping hybridized private–public policy networks in education policymaking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-212
Number of pages21
JournalTheory and Research in Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Education policy
  • education reform
  • incentivism
  • philanthropies
  • privatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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