In Education Matters: Government, Markets and New Zealand Schools, Mark Harrison discusses the role of government and the market in education. Is education better run through political decision making or allowing parents to choose in a market setting? What is the best way to promote equity, efficiency and liberty; to protect children and consumers; to provide information, evaluate students, supply capital, train and pay teachers, determine the curriculum and provide incentives to innovate?
• examines what economic reasoning and the empirical evidence imply for the proper role for government in the education system;
• assesses how the New Zealand school sector performs, and the impact of current government policy, the reforms of the 1980s and of government education spending;
• sets out how the current centralised and politicised government monopoly on schooling wastes resources, discourages good teaching, inhibits parental involvement, suppresses information, stifles innovation and harms the poor;
• looks at how markets would, and do, operate in education and why allowing families increased choice between competing private providers would realise social objectives better than public provision and fix the problems with government schooling.
Harrison presents a comprehensive analysis of the best way to organise education, including whether the government should own schools, how education should be financed and how it should be regulated. He concludes by setting out a reform plan to improve schooling.