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Privatization ‘Philly Style’: What Can Be Learned from Philadelphia’s Diverse Provider Model of School Management (Updated edition with important new information and findings)

This edition of Privatization ‘Philly Style’ updates the 2005 publication of the same name, providing important new information and findings. Philadelphia’s diverse provider model is an intervention aimed at persistently low-performing schools. It is the result of a state takeover and a forerunner of NCLB. Philadelphia’s diverse provider model involves outsourcing school management and other services to a variety of private sector ‘providers’-including for-profit Educational Management Organizations (EMOs), local universities, and local nonprofit organizations. In education, outsourcing has traditionally involved peripheral services such as transportation, security, and food services. In Philadelphia, however, outsourcing has been extended to the core functions of public schools: the design and delivery of education. The authors rely on in-depth interviews, observations, and document analysis to describe the evolution of the diverse provider model. Although many have declared the model a success, the authors raise questions regarding the district’s capacity to monitor providers and capitalize on their diverse strengths and questions about the providers’ ability to generate robust, sustainable interventions for low-performing schools. The authors pose these questions as potential guides for a comprehensive, rigorous assessment of the model’s efficacy.