The Privatization of Education Policymaking: Market-Based Urban Education Reform and the Politics of Evidence

Date 02/22/18 11:20am to 1:00pm
Presenter(s) Janelle Scott, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of California at Berkeley
Location 127 Moore Building

Non-governmental organizations have grown in number and influence in educational policymaking in the United States and internationally. These intermediary organizations (IOs) are active in promoting, participating in, or opposing “incentivist” educational policies like charter schools, vouchers, “parent trigger” laws, and merit-pay systems for teachers that seek to encourage individuals and institutions to be more effective. These reforms operate under a theory that incentivized individuals and organizations will improve educational practice and outcomes, especially for some of the nation’s most impoverished and disadvantaged K-12 students. The evidence on these reforms, and the extent to which policy makers attend to such evidence, stands to affect the educations of millions of U.S. children, making the political contexts under which effective research utilization takes place a key area for empirical investigation.

The adoption and implementation of incentivist policies depends in part on the understanding or acceptance of their track record or potential by policy makers and other stakeholders such as parents, community organizations, and journalists or bloggers. And this acceptance is in turn informed by the promotion and translation of various forms of evidence through a number of knowledge mobilization and policy adoption strategies. In addition, the nature of policymaking is highly complex — made even more so by new policy entrepreneurs and organizations which act as de facto policy makers even when they have limited official public authority to do so. This talk will draw from a multiyear study (2011-2018) of the politics of intermediary organizations and research evidence, to discuss the relationship between the increasing privatization of evidence and policymaking, and the implications of these findings for public education in an increasingly diverse, segregated, and unequal society. 

All faculty and students are welcome to attend!

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