This paper explores the conference theme by questioning what the public interest is in the refinancing of education by the private sector, and by demonstrating how definitions of ‘public’, ‘private’ and ‘the state’ are shifting and intermingling in this context. We argue that a new language of description is emerging that is largely unquestioned, couched as it is in a rhetoric of community improvement and benefit. We see this discourse generating a new construct of ‘the common good’ and the ‘common wealth’ that is shrewd and expedient, but potentially breaking the high levels of trust between state and citizens that has been a hallmark of education in Australia, the USA and England. This redefinition of public interest is one in which the state is extending its intervention under the umbrella of an inclusive rhetoric. What we see emerging is a new (though essentially Deweyan) epistemology of policy and politics in which there is dysfunction between falsely competing expectations driving new community, professional and sectoral alignments. The result is new loci of power emerging from experience and knowledge about policy-making and educational practice, but not necessarily greater public interest.
Annual Meeting of the American Assiciation for Educational Research. (San Francisco April, 2006) p. 1-5