The public health and the public education systems in the United States have encountered problems in quality of service, accountability, and availability of resources. Both systems are under pressure to adopt the general organizational reform of privatization. The debate over privatization in public education is contentious, but in public health, the shift of functions from the public to the private sector has been accepted with limited deliberation. We assess the benefits and concerns of privatization and suggest that shifting public health functions to the private sector raises questions about the values and mission of public health. Public health officials need to be more engaged in a public debate over the desirability of privatization as the future of public health.