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One of the more controversial ideas in the public school arena is whether to privatize public school districts. This issue gained national attention in 2001 when the state of Pennsylvania initiated plans to take over the Philadelphia city school district and contract with a private firm to administer the city’s schools. The move met with widespread opposition despite the fact that Philadelphia public schools had been in decline for some time. The main problem with allowing a private firm to take control of a public school district, say opponents, is that the emphasis will be on cutting costs rather than enhancing education. For-profit firms claim that they improve schools by streamlining and cutting unnecessary costs. School privatization has been tried in some districts, but the long-term benefits or drawbacks remain to be seen.

Inside Privatization