Public education unbounded
Reflection on the publicness of Green School New Zealand
Keywords:public education, education policy, democracy and education, pluralist publics, unbounded publics
Green School New Zealand is a private school whose school fees confirm for critics the inequity of private education, but the school may contribute to an alternative vision of public education if its commitment to sustainability is recognised as a public good. Conventional understanding of public education is challenged by contemporary political and democratic theory on the nature of publics. While public education generally refers to education funded by the state, if public education is limited to education provided by the state it restricts the good that it can do because the state is not equitable in whose interests it serves. Concepts of public education need updating to reflect understandings of varied publics and the individuals of which they are comprised (pluralist publics); the freedom of publics in subjectivity and sovereignty (unbounded publics); and the mutuality and equality of relations within publics (publicness). Green School New Zealand undoubtedly works against public interests in some respects; however, its focused concern for the environment represents an emergent publicness that is not apparent in schools that are more closely bound to the priorities of the state. When we recognise their public dimensions, schools like Green School New Zealand may help with rethinking public education and how we develop new systems of education that act for the good of pluralist, unbounded but connected publics.
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