Beyond the Public-Private Nexus

A Framework for Examining School Partnership Governance in a Blended Capital Reality

Keywords: school partnerships, education partnerships, neoliberal education, blended capital in education, education philanthropy


Increasingly, school-based partnerships have been tied to education reform and the entrance of private capital into the PK-12 space, most prominently from a philanthropy sector that contributes nearly $60 billion annually to education causes.  As a result, what may have been an at-will school-business partnership in the 1980s may today resemble an embedded multi-partner arrangement around professional development, teacher evaluation, or turnaround support. In this paper, a new framework is introduced to situate school-based collaborations in a contemporary context, notably acknowledging that schools today live in a new “blended capital” reality involving diverse sector influences, multiple sources of private and public funding, and therefore multiple measures of efficacy and accountability.

Author Biographies

Walter Balser, University of Denver

Walter Fernando Balser, Ph.D. is an assistant clinical professor in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. Walter’s research focuses on the decentralization of the education space, most recently examining the intersection of private capital in public schooling and its effects on practice and policy. Dr. Balser is the founding director of the Open Partnership Education Network (OPEN) at the University of South Florida, a program to help local thought leaders and institutions engage in community dialogue and collaborations.  

Hardin Coleman, Boston University

Hardin L.K. Coleman, Ph.D., is a Professor of Counseling Psychology and Applied Human Development at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education and Human Development.  He is also a Dean Emeritus of the College.  As a scholar, Dr. Coleman interests include the socio-cultural factors in minority student achievement, the use of developmental guidance to promote social and emotional intelligence in children, how to replicate and bring to scale programs that produce equitable outcomes in schools, and how to drive system change to improve school outcomes for all.