Speaking cooperation, acting competition: Supply-side subsidies and private schools in socioeconomically disadvantaged contexts in Buenos Aires





Private education, School choice, Educational partnerships, Educational legislation, Educational opportunities, Principals


Few studies have explored how schools respond to competition in socially embedded education quasi-markets. This study focuses on how state-subsidized privately-run low-fee schools (S-LFPSs) compete with free public schools in some of the poorest neighborhoods of the City of Buenos Aires. In particular, we explore how S-LFPSs follow different logics of action to attract (and shape) enrollment profiting from their extended autonomy and some regulatory gaps. We applied discourse analysis on data from eight months of ethnographic case study research in nine S-LFPSs. Student selection and operational changes (e.g., increasing the student/teacher ratio) prevail over academic and curricular changes. Selection is operated by means of aptitude tests and screening interviews, and other symbolic artifacts aimed at signaling differences with state-run schools and the potential fit between schools and families. We present a heuristic typology of the different logics of action systematizing the schools’ responses as their leading orientations toward the competitive environment. We suggest that policy inconsistencies and deficient governmental oversight tilt the field against state-run schools. Rather than ensuring equality of educational opportunity, the policy contributes to shape and deepen a highly segregated and inequitable educational landscape.


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Author Biographies

Mauro C. Moschetti, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Mauro C. Moschetti is Ph.D. in Education from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Systematic Pedagogy (UAB) where he teaches undergraduate courses on Comparative Education and Education Planning and Funding. His research is concerned with education privatization, public-private partnerships, market policies in education, and educational inequalities following an interdisciplinary approach from an international and comparative perspective. In recent years, Mauro has participated in competitive research projects, served as an independent consultant, and conducted research in Latin America, North America and Europe for UNESCO, Education International, Open Society Foundations, and other national and international agencies.

Carolina Snaider, Teachers College. Columbia University

Carolina Snaider is pursuing her Doctoral degree in Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a Research Assistant at the National Center for Children and Families and her research interests relate to the design and implementation of high quality, equitable early childhood programs and policies for all young children and their families. For her doctoral dissertation she is examining how New York City gender-related policies are being implemented at early childhood institutions.




How to Cite

Moschetti, M. C., & Snaider, C. (2019). Speaking cooperation, acting competition: Supply-side subsidies and private schools in socioeconomically disadvantaged contexts in Buenos Aires. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27, 131. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.27.4330



Globalization, Privatization, Marginalization