A democratic framework for educational rights

Educational Theory 62 (1):7-23 (2012)
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Educational theorists frequently invoke rights claims to express their views about educational justice and authority. But the unyielding nature of rights claims presents a significant quandary in democratic contexts, given the tension between rights claims and majoritarian democracy. Educational theorists have given limited attention to this tension, while political theorists tend to sideline education in their analyses. In this essay Anne Newman addresses this gap by advancing a democratic rationale for educational rights. Newman's purpose is to provide a framework for advancing educational rights that protects these rights from the whims of majoritarian politics. Her central argument is that the importance of educational rights warrants giving democratic bodies far less deference than they are typically accorded. Yet the assertion of a right to a quality education, Newman emphasizes, should not be viewed as an undue constraint on democratic authority but rather is consistent with and required by the values that underlie democracy



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Anne Newman
Stanford University

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