New Right Economics Colonising Education: A New Zealand Experiment
In 1989 the New Zealand government introduced a dramatic new policy initiative in to reconfigure the education system, particularly in its pre-tertiary institutional structures. Its themes centre around notions of economic rationalism (the pursuit of an ‘efficient’ use of educational resources inputs through the creation of a quasicompetitive ‘market’), managerialism (in imposing measurable and auditable ‘outputs’) and a skepticism of the old model arising out of public choice theory (the suspicion that teachers and bureaucrats are motivated by self-interest rather than the public good). The ability of Economics to ‘colonise’ education appears to echo similara moves by the Law and Economics school in legal theory. This paper describes in broad terms the new institutional forms of ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ and looks to some of the confused / confusing ideological roots of the new model in terms of various versions of liberalism.