Policy implications of social justice in education

Ethics and Education 4 (2):141-152 (2010)
Abstract
This article analyzes the implications of a particular conception of social justice in education for the policies that have led to significant political controversies in contemporary communities in the United States. Many of these controversies have arisen from the collision between the increasingly multicultural reality in those communities and the accountability system that has during the past decade or so been imposed on the schools by standards-based reformers in the federal and state governments. For this task, the article considers the schools in a hypothetical community in which significant immigration of Latino citizens has occurred. It proposes a theory of social justice in education that uses John Rawls's ideas about political liberalism and an overlapping political consensus in a pluralistic society as a basis for analyzing the normative and factual disagreements in that community. Employing the principles of that theory, the article considers whether the system of accountability that has led to the disagreements is normatively justified and concludes in particular that that system violates both the principles of personal liberty and of equality of educational opportunity in education. It also concludes that a dramatically different system of accountability is required, one in which central political authorities have a responsibility to hold localities accountable for the social justice purposes of education and in which local authorities have a responsibility to design the school curriculum to be genuinely responsive to the diverse cultural interests that children have in their local communities
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    John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
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