Targets, threats and (dis)trust: The managerial troika for public school principals in Chile

Carmen Montecinos, Luis Ahumada, Sergio Galdames, Fabián Campos, María Verónica Leiva

Abstract


Public education in Chile has been steadily losing students as a result of the implementation, for the last 35 years, of a market model. In this paper we exemplify how a structural problem (public schools’ declining enrollment) created by neoliberal educational policies is transformed into an individual problem to be managed by the public school principal. Principals must sign a performance-based contract that specifies sanctions and incentives for meeting enrollment targets. The current paper examines, through data produced by in-depth interviews and shadowing, how 19 principals worked toward that target. Findings show that to manage enrollment principals spent, on average, 24% of their time performing marketing tasks. Principals, thus, have developed an entrepreneurial self, which is promoted by quasi-market school governance models. Through this entrepreneurship they manage various threats that represent barriers to the possibilities for meeting enrollment targets.


Keywords


Politics of education; educational policy; neoliberalism; new public management; school principals; professional identity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.2083

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