October 1, 2005
Program on Education Policy and Governance, Harvard University
This paper was prepared for Harvard University's Program on Education Policy and Governance conference Mobilizing the Private Sector for Public Education. The conference, held on October 5 and 6, 2005, was held at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and co-sponsored by the World Bank. 
Summary: Even in the absence of any government efforts to support private schools, we observe a substantial number of private schools operating successfully alongside nominally "free" public schools. When evaluating possible channels through which the private sector can be more effectively mobilized to meet the needs of families, a necessary first step is therefore to identify the existing channels through which private schools manage to compete in public school environments despite charging non-trivial levels of tuition to parents. Put differently, private schools must have some competitive advantages that they currently leverage to attract parents and compete with public schools, and these advantages determine the ways in which private schools form and the types of families they attract. When designed with these competitive advantages in mind, public policy can then alter how the private sector evolves in a public school environment, which families it attracts and how the nature of public schools changes as a result of this evolution of the private sector....
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