The Political Economy of Corporations in Urban Education
Kathryn Moeller

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Stanford University

Primary Discipline

This ethnographic study seeks to understand the shifting terrain of urban education as corporations and their foundations become increasingly powerful actors in shaping education policy and practice through corporate partnerships with public schools. It examines the political economy of corporations in education amidst urban school districts’ failure to meet the educational needs of communities of color and increasing state divestment in public education. Drawing on case studies of corporate partnerships with four high schools, the research asks, in the context of racial, class, and geographic-based disparities in education, how and why are US transnational corporations investing in urban education, and what are the intended and unintended effects of their influence? The research will provide new insights into the practices and implications of corporate influence in education; a nuanced understanding of how schools, districts, communities, and corporations and their foundations negotiate the terms of these partnerships; and an assessment of the extent to which these partnerships influence student, school, and district-level outcomes. In this way, this study in Chicago will offer insights into the corporatization of education in the US.
About Kathryn Moeller
Kathryn Moeller is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her interdisciplinary, ethnographic scholarship examines the gendered, sexualized, and racialized nature of corporate power in the fields of education, feminism, and international development. She is the author of the forthcoming book, The Girl Effect: Capitalism, Feminism, and the Corporate Politics of Ending Poverty (2018). Her work has also been published in British Journal of Sociology of Education, International Journal of Education Development, and Feminist Studies. She received her Ph.D. (2012) from the Social and Cultural Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley with a Designated Emphasis in Gender, Women, and Sexuality. Prior to graduate school, she was a high school teacher in the U.S. and Honduras.

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