The Chilean education system is an emblematic case of school management privatization,
with the majority of schools operating under government funding, but private
administration. This article addresses the incidence of this dimension on school leadership,
showing the differences and continuities established among primary school
principals in the subsidized private and municipal sectors. The conclusion is that
private school administrators do not recruit principals on a competitive basis, as a
result of which these principals do not present a more developed professional profile,
and that merely having more duties for executing the principal position – as happens in
subsidized private schools – is not enough for an effective development of practices
evidencing improved school leadership. These conclusions challenge the statement
frequently expressed, but lacking sufficient empirical evidence, that the greater autonomy
in school management encompassed by privatization will positively impact on
school leadership and, therefore, on educational improvement.