School choice and educational equality

Abstract
Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, and of the institutions which regulate schooling no less than others. Education policy, just like social policy more generally, should be guided principally by considerations of justice and only secondarily by pragmatic considerations such as what compromises must be made with existing social forces opposed to justice in order to optimize the justice of the existing institutions. But of course, in an otherwise unjust society there are sharp limits on what can be done to pursue justice in any given policy arena. Justice is, furthermore, complex. It is not simply captured by identifying a single value -- say, educational equality -- because other values that are also important to justice -- like, for example, benefiting the least advantaged, or instituting the preconditions for flourishing familial relationships may, in some circumstances, conflict with that value. This makes it all the more difficult to do what I want to do in this paper -- explore a particular educational reform idea in terms of its potential contribution to (or detriment from) social justice.
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