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School Choice and Social Justice

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2004

    Outstanding!

    I was intrigued by the author's philosophical approach, so refreshing amid much (undoubtedly useful) anecdotal, pep-rally, motivational-styled writing. Brighouse is not deluded that his ideas are based in theory. Yet it is that very fact that makes his work so appealing. It is filled with possibilities. I am also deeply impressed that his conceptualization of social justice extends far beyond the superficial concerns of radical multi-culturalism that borders, disturbingly often, on separatism. Instead, his ideas elucidate a concept of education-for-social-justice for all, not blind to culture, not assimilationist, but total and unobscured by passions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2000

    Comment From Author

    I wrote this book out of a sense of frustration which the current debate on school choice. Proponents of choice are too often groundlessly optimistic about the workings of markets, and they almost always neglect the impact of choice on social justice. When they do consider the impact on social justice, the conception of social justice they use is usually simply indefensible: depending either on libertarian views about property rights, or authoritarian views about the rights of parents over their children.. Opponents are usually concerned with social justice, but too often they use the wrong conception of social justice, one which is indefensibly focussed on the public good rather than on the vital individual interests of children. My diagnosis of this is that left wing thinking about education has become infused with communitarian and post-modernist views about justice, both of which are deeply mistaken, and very unhealthy. So I wanted to counter the public good-style justifications of education with an individualist theory of social justice in education, which gives proper regard to the interests of children; and at the same time explore whether school choice could be made compatible with social justice. About 2/3rds of the book is devoted to the philosophical task of elaborating and defending a theory of justice in education: one which places educational equality and the interest of every person in a real opportunity for personal autonomy at the centre of thinking about education policy. The rest of the book evaluates both the theoretical arguments for choice and the real world evidence on choice schemes, in the light of this theory of social justice. In the final chapter I argue for a carefully regulated school choice scheme, and show that many of the practical objections to choice could be overcome. Although I defend a very strongly egalitarian theory of social justice in education, my openness to the use of markets will discomfort most orthodox liberal defenders of public education; and despite my circumspect friendliness to markets, right wingers will be outraged by theory of justice and support for government regulation. So I don't expect anyone to be happy with the book: but I do hope that it will force people to rethink their basic assumptions, and perhaps contribute something useful to the public debate. I expect (and already have evidence) that the book will discomfort both left and right wing thinkers about education, but think it is none the worse for that. I rated the book because they wouldn't let me submit the comment without rating the book: not to skew the ratings, honest.

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