they're less prevalent here in the US due to the emphasis on education and using these types of events as a type of progression ladder towards competition
That's a big difference then. Here they're not run as part of the development ladder or affiliated in any way with clubs who are involved in racing - they're purely a for-profit arrangement either by the track owner or track day companies who hire the track and lay on the promotion and organisation. Hence they could care less about developing people's skills. They don't even have a financial incentive to avoid dangerous drivers, since our liability laws are much less punitive than yours, there's just the indirect one of if they get a rep for being cowboy country, people will stop showing up (which has happened to one or two of the drift day organisers). Though as I said, it all seems to work out OK - unskilled drivers don't seem to be a major problem.
The NZ motorsports scene is pretty fragmented. We don't have an equivalent to SCCA - and Motorsport NZ, the FIA affiliated body, is really only actively involved at the professional end of the sport, so their take on a development path is karts/single seaters/professional. There's not really a "path" to bring people in to the grassroots competitive scene, you just find your own way in and give it a bash.