Goldman School of Public Policy - University of California, Berkeley

Janelle Scott

Associate Professor of Education & African American Studies

Areas of Expertise

  • Education
  • Race & Policy
  • Advocacy Politics
  • Educational Equity
  • Policy Analysis & Evaluation
  • Politics of Education
  • Privatization
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Urban Leadership
  • Urban Schooling

Biography

Janelle Scott is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the Graduate School of Education and African American Studies Department. She earned a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of California, Los Angeles Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to earning her doctorate, she taught elementary school in Oakland, Calif.

Her research explores the relationship between education, policy, and equality of opportunity, and centers on three related policy strands: the racial politics of public education, the politics of school choice, marketization, and privatization, and the role of elite and community-based advocacy in shaping public education. Her work has appeared in several edited books and journals, including the Peabody Journal of Education, Educational Policy, American Educational Research Journal, and Harvard Educational Review. She the editor of School choice and diversity: What the evidence says (2005, Teachers College Press).

Other Affiliations

  • Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education (UC Berkeley)
  • Leadership for Educational Equity Program
  • Policy and Organizations Research

Working Papers

  • Educação e Relações Étnico-Raciais: Entre diálogos contemporâneos e políticas públicas

    Co-authors: Fernando César Ferreira Gouvêa, Luiz Fernandes de Oliveira, Sandra Regina Sales, Aristóteles de Paula Berino, Carlos Prado Mendoza, Carlos Roberto de Carvalho, Cláudia Miranda, Jorge Luís Rodrigues dos Santos, Maíra Gomes de Souza da Rocha, Márcia Denise Pletsch, Maria Elena Viana Souza, Michele S. Moses, Mônica Rosa, Neuza M. Sant’ Anna de Oliveira, Simone D`Avila Almeida, Stela Guedes Caputo, Úrsula Pinto Lopes de Farias

    GSPP Working Paper (January 2014)

    Download a PDF (4KB)

  • The Politics of Venture Philanthropy in Charter School Policy and Advocacy

    Co-author: Christopher Lubienski

    GSPP Working Paper (January 2009)

    Philanthropists have long funded a wide range of educational research, practice, and policy initiatives, primarily through namesake foundations. Some observers have criticized these efforts as doing little to change the status quo in education and have called for more aggressive action on the part of this sector. Out of this critique has emerged a new philanthropic form, often termed venture philanthropy. Perhaps nowhere is venture philanthropy more prevalent than in the charter school and policy and advocacy terrain. Drawing from document analysis and a review of historical literature, this article provides a sociopolitical, descriptive discussion of this “new” form of philanthropy in supporting the charter school reform network. It also examines the funding strategies of venture philanthropies and the areas of policy intersection in program initiatives. The article concludes with a discussion of some political and philosophical tensions that venture philanthropy raises and also provides suggestions for further research.

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Selected Publications

  • Reframing Teach For America: A Conceptual Framework for the Next Generation of Scholarship

    Scott, J., Trujillo, T. & Rivera, M. D. (2016). Reframing Teach For America: A conceptual framework for the next generation of scholarship. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24(12). http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.24.2419 This article is part of EPAA/AAPE’s Special Issue on Teach For America: Research on Politics, Leadership, Race, and Education Reform, guest edited by Tina Trujillo and Janelle Scott.

    In this article, we advance a conceptual framework for the study of Teach For America (TFA) as a political and social movement with implicit and explicit ideological and political underpinnings. We argue that the second branch of TFA’s mission statement, which maintains that TFA’s greatest point of influence in public education is not in classrooms, but in its facilitation of entry into leadership positions aimed at reshaping public schooling, can be better understood in terms of the organization’s: a) infusion of “policy entrepreneurs” into educational policymaking processes; b) cultivation of powerful networks of elite interests; c) promotion of “corporate” models of managerial leadership; and, d) racial and social class identities of its corps members that facilitate entry into leadership and policy networks. Our framework is informed by the extant research literature on TFA, interview data from more than 150 alumni and corps members, and our observations of TFA’s 20th Anniversary Summit in Washington, D.C., as an illustrative case of TFA’s messaging and general orientation toward educational reform. We conclude that this framework can help illuminate under-examined political and ideological motivations behind the organization’s activities.

    Keywords: Teach For America, racial inequality, policy entrepreneurs, educational leadership, urban educational reform, power networks 

    Published Version (701KB)

  • Reframing Teach For America: A Conceptual Framework for the Next Generation of Scholarship

    Scott, J., Trujillo, T. & Rivera, M. D. (2016). Reframing Teach For America: A conceptual framework for the next generation of scholarship. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24(12). http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.24.2419 This article is part of EPAA/AAPE’s Special Issue on Teach For America: Research on Politics, Leadership, Race, and Education Reform, guest edited by Tina Trujillo and Janelle Scott.

    In this article, we advance a conceptual framework for the study of Teach For America (TFA) as a political and social movement with implicit and explicit ideological and political underpinnings. We argue that the second branch of TFA’s mission statement, which maintains that TFA’s greatest point of influence in public education is not in classrooms, but in its facilitation of entry into leadership positions aimed at reshaping public schooling, can be better understood in terms of the organization’s: a) infusion of “policy entrepreneurs” into educational policymaking processes; b) cultivation of powerful networks of elite interests; c) promotion of “corporate” models of managerial leadership; and, d) racial and social class identities of its corps members that facilitate entry into leadership and policy networks. Our framework is informed by the extant research literature on TFA, interview data from more than 150 alumni and corps members, and our observations of TFA’s 20th Anniversary Summit in Washington, D.C., as an illustrative case of TFA’s messaging and general orientation toward educational reform. We conclude that this framework can help illuminate under-examined political and ideological motivations behind the organization’s activities.

    Keywords: Teach For America, racial inequality, policy entrepreneurs, educational leadership, urban educational reform, power networks 

  • Superheroes and Transformers: Rethinking Teach For America’s Leadership Models

    Trujillo, T. & Scott, J. (2014). Superheroes and Transformers: Rethinking Teach For America’s Leadership Models. Phi Delta Kappan, 95(8), pp. 57-61.

  • School Choice and the Empowerment Imperative

    Janelle Scott. Peabody Journal of Education (2013). 88:1, 60-73

    Drawing from historical, sociological, and policy literatures, as well as legislative activity, this article traces the intellectual and political evolution of educational equity, beginning with progressive models of redistribution and remedy to more recent neoliberal forms, which privilege parental empowerment through the expansion of school choice. At the legislative and regulatory levels, policymakers have redefined equity in schooling to mean providing parents with sufficient school choices to “buy” education for their children. This framework recasts the role of the state as a broadening agent for educational markets. Although parental empowerment is seemingly a central goal of the legislation, the laws also facilitate the entry of private sector actors into the educational marketplace. The resulting choice options depart from redistributive forms of equity, advantage some parents over others, and also empower for-profit and nonprofit intermediaries and private providers seeking to gain a share of the educational marketplace.

    Published Version (186KB)

  • Private Sector Contracting and Democratic Accountability

    Catherine DiMartino and Janelle Scott. 2012. Educational Policy. XX(X): 1-27.

    Public officials are increasingly contracting with the private sector for a range of educational services. With much of the focus on private sector accountability on cost-effectiveness and student performance, less attention has been given to shifts in democratic accountability. Drawing on data from the state of New York, one of the most active contracting contexts, the authors examine how contracting poses challenges to democratic accountability and provide suggestions for how policy makers engaging with private sector providers might better attend to the broader public purposes of schooling.

    Published Version (310KB)

  • Toward an Intersectional Understanding of Process Causality and Social Context

    Gary L. Anderson and Janelle Scott. 2012. Qualitative Inquiry. 18(8): 674-685.

    Maxwell and Donmoyer both argue in this issue of Qualitative Inquiry that narrow definitions of causality in educational research tend to disqualify qualitative research from influence (and funding) among policy makers. They propose a process view of causality that would allow qualitative researchers to make causal claims more grounded in the thick description of practice settings. In this article, we build on this notion of process causality, but further argue that unless we also broaden traditional notions of context in qualitative research, we will continue to seek policy solutions primarily at individual, local institutional, and cultural levels. Although qualitative researchers have made progress in acknowledging the intersectionality of race, class, and gender at the cultural level, this intersectionality seldom extends to macro level structures and forces, in part because current notions of causality make such links difficult at low levels of inference. Borrowing on Donmoyer’s notion of preponderance of evidence, we suggest a way to use process causality as a scaffolding for multilevel analysis.

    Published Version (681KB)

  • A Rosa Parks moment? School choice and the marketization of civil rights

    Janelle Scott. Critical Studies in Education.Vol. 54, No. 1, February 2013, 5-18.

    In this critical analysis, I interrogate the efforts of elite education reformers to cast market-based school choice reforms as descendants of civil rights movement policies. Drawing from multidisciplinary research, including educational policy, history, and sociology, as well as the voices of contemporary educational reformers, I examine the ideological underpinnings and demographic profile of the market-based school reform movement. In turn, I juxtapose these elite stances and initiatives with grassroots organizing in traditionally marginalized communities and argue that it is the latter which yokes their efforts to issues of justice, equity, and voice and are far more deeply connected to the ongoing struggle for civil rights and social justice. I conclude that civil rights claims in support of market-based choice reforms are a seductive attempt to recast civil rights concerns primarily at the individual rather than at the community level and therefore fail to map onto broader social and educational justice concerns that animate alternative grassroots organizing.

    Published Version (141KB)

  • When Community Control Meets Privatization: The Search for Empowerment in African American Charter Schools

    Janelle T. Scott. 2011. Black Educational Choice: Assessing the Private and Public Alternatives to Traditional K-12 Public Schools. 191-204.

    Published Version (957KB)

  • Market-Driven Education Reform and the Racial Politics of Advocacy

    Janelle T. Scott. 2011. Peabody Journal of Education. 86: 580-599. 

    What is the landscape of the racial politics of public education in the age of Obama? To what factors can we attribute the seeming educational policy consensus from Washington, DC, to the states and from philanthropies and policy entrepreneurs in urban school districts? How should we understand opposition to the policy menu? This article examines commonsense understandings in education reform, which are supported by assertions that market-based schooling options are superior for children of color, and argues that a primary reason for the popularity of such reforms is an underexamined advocacy coalition, formed nominally around school choice, while also encompassing several other entrepreneurial educational reforms. The article describes the structure of this network, arguing that its dominance has precluded an understanding of counter advocacy against school choice and related reforms. It then describes several past and current movements that challenge commonsense understandings of the reforms’ currency, as a way of pushing back against the reforms’ expansion. The article also discusses the activities of grassroots community groups in response to market-based reforms and argues that these efforts can help to expand public deliberation on complex matters of educational policy. The article concludes with recommendations for further examination of these efforts to highlight the concerns, strategies, and solutions to educational inequality being articulated within communities of color and with their allies.

    Published Version (170KB)

  • Hybridized, Franchised, Duplicated & Replicated: Charter Schools and Management Organizations

    Janelle T. Scott and Catherine C. DiMartino. 2010. The Charter School Experiment: Expectations, Evidence, and Implications. 171-196.

    Published Version (1MB)

  • Community Resistance to School Privatization: The Case of New York City

    Scott, J. and Fruchter, N. 2009. The People Shall Rule. 180-205

    Published Version (1MB)

  • Public Education Under New Management: A Typology of Educational Privatization Applied to New York City's Restructuring

    Janelle Scott and Catherine DiMartino. 2009. Peabody Journal of Education. Vol. 8, No. 3: 432-452.

    Educational privatization is rapidly expanding in many urban school districts, altering the social, political, and economic dynamics of educational policy and leadership. Yet many adherents cast privatization primarily as a fiscal or economic alternative to traditional public school management, ignoring these broader alterations. Drawing from a review of the educational privatization literature, as well as an analysis of current privatization reforms, this article offers an original typology of educational privatization and applies the typology to the reforms underway in New York City. It concludes with a discussion of the implications of this typology and privatization reforms for educational leadership practice and policy

    Published Version (2MB)

  • Sociological Perspectives on NCLB and Federal Involvement in Education

    Alan R. Sadovnik, A. Gary Dworkin, Adam Gamoran, Maureen Hallinan, and Janelle Scott. 2007. No Child Left Behind and the Reduction of the Achievement Gap: Sociological Perspectives on Federal Educational Policy. 359-373. 

    Published Version (653KB)

  • The Institutional Landscape of Interest Group Politics and School Choice

    Elizabeth H. Debray-Pelot, Christopher A. Lubienski and Janelle T. Scott. 2007. Peabody Journal of Education, 82(2-3). 204-230.

    This article provides an updated analysis of the institutional and organizational landscape surrounding the advocacy of and opposition to vouchers and other forms of school choice over the past decade at federal/national, state, and local levels. The politics of choice grew far more complex during the 1990s, with Republican control of Congress and the White House, the growth of the national charter school movement, congressional passage of pilot voucher programs, and the Supreme Court’s 2002 Zelman v. Simmons-Harris ruling. Utilizing an Advocacy Coalition Framework, questions about the ideological motivations behind different forms of school choice, the particular programs that certain groups are likely to support or oppose, and the strategies—including the potential alliances and coalitions—that are increasingly employed around school choice policy are explored. A framework for understanding and analyzing policymaking in this area is offered, extending existing thinking on both school choice issues and education policy more generally.

    Published Version (221KB)

  • Public Schools, Private Resources: The Role of Social Networks in California Charter School Reform

    Janelle Scott and Jennifer Jellison Holme. 2002. Where Charter School Policy Fails: The Problems of Accountability and Equity. 102-128.

    Published Version (1MB)

  • Defining Democracy in the Neoliberal Age: Charter School Reform and Educational Consumption

    Amy Stuart Wells, Julie Slayton, and Janelle Scott. American Educational Research Journal. Summer 2002. Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 337-361.

    In this article Wells, Slayton, and Scott draw on data from their charter school research to question the extent to which “democratic” and “market-based” schools are dichotomous. They argue that in the current political and economic climate, free-market and deregulatory educational reforms such as charter school laws are perceived to be highly “democratic” by their neoliberal advocates and by many of the suburban school board members and superintendents in their case studies. Thus the authors call on progressive supporters of charter schools and public schools to couch their arguments for democratic schooling in a call for social justice and equity as opposed to greater “liberty”

    Published Version (140KB)

  • Charter Schools in California, Michigan and Arizona: An Alternative Framework for Policy Analysis

    Janelle T. Scott and Margaret E. Barber. 2002. National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Occassional Paper No. 40. 

    This paper uses the charter schools legislation of three states, California, Arizona and Michigan, as a lens to understand the policy values embodied in school choice reforms. We question the prevailing rubrics of the Center for Education Reform and the American Federation of Teachers. Briefly stated, the former ranks laws as either “strong” or “weak” and the latter identifies laws as either “good” or “bad.” We examine the legislation in light of an alternative framework. Specifically, we consider how the laws incorporate choice, productive efficiency, equity, and social cohesion. We also consider what policy tools, such as finance, information, and regulation are provided in the legislation to achieve these values. We find this framework more comprehensive than current, normative frameworks that pervade charter school research. Though we emphasize the need for continued research at the local charter school level to understand the connection between legislation and implementation, this framework enables observers to move beyond value-laden descriptors of charter school laws. 

    Published Version (94KB)

  • Privatization and Charter School Reform: Economic, Political, and Social Dimensions

    Amy Stuart Wells and Janelle Scott. 2001. Privatizing Education: Can The School Marketplace Deliver Freedom Of Choice, Efficiency, Equity, And Social Cohesion?. 234-259.

    Published Version (1MB)

  • Charter Schools as Postmodern Paradox: Rethinking Social Stratification in an Age of Deregulated School Choice

    A. Wells, A. Lopez, J. Scott, and J. Holme. 1999. Harvard Educational Review. Vol. 69, No. 2: 172-204.

    Published Version (1MB)

  • Beyond the Rhetoric of Charter School Reform: A Study of Ten California School Districts

    A. Wells, L. Artiles, S. Carnochan, C. W. Cooper, C. Grutzik, J. J. Holme, A. Lopez, J. Scott, J. Slayton, and A. Vasudeva. 1998. Beyond the Rhetoric of Charter School Reform: A Study of Ten California School Districts

    Published Version (1MB)

  • School Choice as a Civil Right: The Political Construction of a Claim and Its Implications for School Desegregation

    Janelle Scott. 2013. Integrating Schools in a Changing Society: New Policies and Legal Options for a Multiracial Generation. 32-52.

    Published Version (649KB)

  • School Context and Charter School Achievement: A Framework for Understanding the Performance “"Black Box"

    Janelle Scott and Adriana Villavicencio. 2009. Peabody Journal of Education. 84: 227-243.

    This article explores the relationship between charter school racial composition, school environments, and student achievement. We offer an original framework for understanding school context and its influence on schooling outcomes. We conclude that policymakers could better attend to the persistent educational inequality that has shaped U.S. schooling if when designing school choice plans they took account of student racial composition even in a postdesegregation environment.

    Published Version (1MB)

No More New Education Policy Ideas, Please!

No More New Education Policy Ideas, Please!

David L. Kirp, Anthony S. Bryk, Janelle Scott, Mark G. Yudof

Event: No More New Education Policy Ideas—Please!

Date: October 21, 2016 Duration: 89 minutes