Functionalism and the New Right Compared
- Believe some people are naturally more talented than others.
- They agree with functionalists that education should be run on meritocratic principles of open competition.
- They believe that education should socialise pupils into shared values and provide a sense of national identity.
In addition, the New Right believe that older industrial societies such as Britain are in decline, partly as a result of increased global economic competition.
when dealing with a question on functionalist views of education's role, bring in the New Right too - their arguments are in some ways an extension of the functionalists'.
NR - The market versus the state
- The effects of state control - a key feature of NR thinking is that too much state control of education has resulted in inefficiency, national economic decline and a lack of personal and business initiative. A culture of state welfare dependency has developed, the cost of which has reduced investment in industry. One major difference with functionalism is that the NR doesn't believe the state can run an efficient education system.
- One size fits all - NR arguments based on belief state cannot meet people's needs. In a state-run system, education inevitably ends up as 'one size fits all' that does not meet individual and community needs, or the needs of employers for skilled and motivated workers.
- Lower standards - State-run are not accountable to those who use them and therefore they are inefficient. Schools that get poor results do not change because they are not answerable to their consumers. The result is lower standards and a less qualified workforce.
Chubb and Moe: giving the consumer choice
Chubb and Moe compared achievements of 60,00 pupils form low-income families in 1,015 state and private high schools in the USA.
Data shows that pupils from low-income do about 5% better in private schools.
State education has failled create equal opportunity becuase it does not have to respond to pupils' needs.
Parents and communities cannot do anything about failing schools while the schools are controlled by the state.
Private schools deliever higher quality education becuase they are answerable to parents.
The solution is to introduce a market system in state education. Done via a voucher system in which each family would be given a voucher to spend on buying education from a school of their choice.
Has the state any role in education?
Although the NR want to reduce the state's role in education, they do still see a limited role for it:
- State should create the framework for competition between schools (by publishing league tables of exam results and by setting a national curriculum that all schools must teach).
- State still has to ensure that schools transmit society's shared culture through a curriculum that emphasises a shared national identity (e.g. through the teaching of British history).
Evaluation of the New Right
- Although school standards - as measured by exam results - seem to have risen, there are other possible reasons for this improvement apart from the introduction of a market.
- Critics argue that low standards in some state schools are the result of inadequate funding rather than state control of education.
Gerwitz argues that competition between schools benefits the middle class, who can get thier children into more desirable schools.
- Marxists argue that education imposes the culture of a ruling class, not a shared culture of 'national identity' as the New Right argue.