chapter  2
19 Pages

Social justice and education

Measurement has been a social justice concern since the beginning of civilization, and so has education. Dewey reminds us of the importance of education in the quote above, both for the development of moral individuals and for the development of a just society. The first great writings on justice, from Plato to Confucius, focus on the education of the individual and the functions of schooling as an aspect of government. For over two centuries, the public school systems have been at the centre of debates about social justice, with reformers, politicians, and teachers in all times and places understanding themselves as administering justice, only in other times and places to be accused of perpetuating injustices. Education has been understood as one of the royal roads to justice by the philosophers mentioned above, as well as Rousseau, Kant, and Dewey. Schools have been the focus of billions of dollars of state and philanthropic money, millions of hours of scientific research, and thousands of policies, laws and regulations. Despite this attention, and the hopes pegged on the power of education, schools are still broadly understood as being on both sides of justice – as being both a source of justice and a source of injustice. Questions about schooling, education, and justice are still vexed; yet today large-scale testing-intensive reform efforts are being undertaken in the name of social justice. This chapter draws out essential lessons from Rawls’s theory of justice for the philosophy of education. In Chapter 3 these lessons are integrated with the principles of just institutional measurement outlined in Chapter 1, resulting in a broadly applicable theory of just educational measurement.