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Just Schools

Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference

Martha Minow, Richard A. Shweder, Hazel Rose Markus

Publication Year: 2008

Educators and policymakers who share the goal of equal opportunity in schools often hold differing notions of what entails a just school in multicultural America. Some emphasize the importance of integration and uniform treatment for all, while others point to the benefits of honoring cultural diversity in ways that make minority students feel at home. In Just Schools, noted legal scholars, educators, and social scientists examine schools with widely divergent methods of fostering equality in order to explore the possibilities and limits of equal education today.The contributors to Just Schools combine empirical research with rich ethnographic accounts to paint a vivid picture of the quest for justice in classrooms around the nation. Legal scholar Martha Minow considers the impact of school choice reforms on equal educational opportunities. Psychologist Hazel Rose Markus examines culturally sensitive programs where students exhibit superior performance on standardized tests and feel safer and more interested in school than those in color-blind programs. Anthropologist Heather Lindkvist reports on how Somali Muslims in Lewiston, Maine, invoked the American ideal of inclusiveness in winning dress-code exemptions and accommodations for Islamic rituals in the local public school.  Political scientist Austin Sarat looks at a school system in which everyone endorses multiculturalism but holds conflicting views on the extent to which culturally sensitive practices should enter into the academic curriculum. Anthropologist Barnaby Riedel investigates how a private Muslim school in Chicago aspires to universalist ideals, and education scholar James Banks argues that schools have a responsibility to prepare students for citizenship in a multicultural society. Anthropologist John Bowen offers a nuanced interpretation of educational commitments in France and the headscarf controversy in French schools. Anthropologist Richard Shweder concludes the volume by connecting debates about diversity in schools with a broader conflict between national assimilation and cultural autonomy. As America’s schools strive to accommodate new students from around the world, Just Schools provides a provocative and insightful look at the different ways we define and promote justice in schools and in society at large.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

About the Authors

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p. ix

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pp. xi-xii

This project is an ethnographic, legal, and conceptual exploration of the tensions between the vicissitudes of the pluralism agenda (seeking recognition and respect of diverse group traditions) and the inclusion agenda (seeking equal opportunity...

Part I: Introduction

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pp. 1-18

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1. Pursuing Equal Education in Societies of Differences

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pp. 3-18

Schooling is always an act of hope. An older generation hopes to pass on its learning to those who follow, a free society hopes to engage a new generation in the project of self-governance, and an unequal society hopes to offer genuine...

Part II: Schooling and the Equality-Difference Paradox

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pp. 19-98

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2. We're All for Equality in U.S. School Reforms: But What Does it Mean?

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pp. 21-62

When a group of parents sought to include their religious holiday in the set of public school holidays, the school board voted ten to zero against the proposal. When an applicant asked the Board of School Examiners to offer the examination...

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3. Identity Matters: Ethnicity, Race, and the American Dream

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pp. 63-98

Arecent poll of Latinos, Asians, and African Americans in California finds that more than 80 percent of the parents of each ethnic group have the very highest educational aspirations for their children (New American Media 2006). These parents expect their children to complete college...

Part III: Just Schools in Context

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pp. 99-224

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4. Contested Terrain: Visions of Multiculturalism in an American Town

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pp. 101-131

I live in a place whose liberal tendencies have earned it various nicknames. For example, it has been called “The People’s Republic of Amherst” and “Amherst, An Island Off the Coast of America.” Amherst, Massachusetts, is a classic college...

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5. Universal Particularism: Making an Ethical Islamic School in Chicago

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pp. 132-163

These quotes reflect a form of ethical universalism that is increasingly being appealed to in order to defend the reintroduction of moral pedagogy, particularly character education, in American schools. The first quotation is from a female science...

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6. The Reach and Limits of Cultural Accommodation: Public Schools and Somali Muslim Immigrants in Maine

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pp. 164-203

The rapid influx of Somali Muslims to a working class community in Central Maine (the “whitest state” in the nation)1 has challenged an outwardly homogeneous community to consider how to educate students who hold cultural views that diverge...

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7. Republican Ironies: Equality and Identities in French Schools

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pp. 204-224

The tensions between alternative visions of success that permeate discussions of American schools are hardly unique to the United States. Across Europe, schools recently have become emblematic of both new forms of cultural difference and new concerns...

Part IV: Just Schools in the World

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8. Diversity, Transformative Citizenship Education, and School Reform

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pp. 227-253

The increasing recognition and legitimacy of diversity within the United States and around the world require educators to rethink citizenship and citizenship education. Historically within the United States, as well as within other nations, the major goal of citizenship education has been to develop...

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9. After Just Schools: The Equality-Difference Paradox and Conflicting Varieties of Liberal Hope

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pp. 254-290

Several conflicting varieties of liberal value are present in debates about how children should be justly educated in a multicultural society such as our own. Specifically, there are four liberal values—autonomy, merit-based justice, equal opportunity...


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pp. 291-300

E-ISBN-13: 9781610447263
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871545831

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 608377617
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Just Schools

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Educational equalization.
  • Multiculturalism -- United States.
  • Educational equalization -- United States.
  • Multiculturalism.
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