Just Schools

Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference

Martha Minow
Richard A. Shweder
Hazel Rose Markus
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 312
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610447263
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  • Book Info
    Just Schools
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-726-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, Education, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. About the Authors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
    M.M., R.A.S. and H.M.
  5. PART I INTRODUCTION
    • 1 PURSUING EQUAL EDUCATION IN SOCIETIES OF DIFFERENCE
      (pp. 3-18)
      Martha Minow, Richard A. Shweder and Hazel Rose Markus

      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 opportunities for individual economic mobility and success. Adults hope schools will help students become economically self-sufficient, capable of supporting their own dependents, and able to enhance the nation’s economic competitiveness over time. Equally important, older generations hope to pass on their stores of knowledge and values as a cultural inheritance, which may include a specific national, cultural, or...

  6. PART II SCHOOLING AND THE EQUALITY-DIFFERENCE PARADOX
    • 2 WE’RE ALL FOR EQUALITY IN U.S. SCHOOL REFORMS: BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
      (pp. 21-62)
      Martha Minow

      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 required for public school teaching applicants on a day other than her religious Sabbath, the Board refused her request and prevailed in court over her legal objection. The outcomes were similar, but the two events, both in the United States, are separated by one hundred years. It was Ida Cohn, an Orthodox Jewish applicant, who failed in her challenge...

    • 3 IDENTITY MATTERS: ETHNICITY, RACE, AND THE AMERICAN DREAM
      (pp. 63-98)
      Hazel Rose Markus

      A recent 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, and many expect them to complete both college and graduate school. In New York, nearly every student surveyed in an in-depth ethnographic study of African American and Latino students from low-income families agreed that “getting a good education is a practical road to success for a young (Black/Hispanic) person like me” (Carter 2005).Despite a widely...

  7. PART III JUST SCHOOLS IN CONTEXT
    • 4 CONTESTED TERRAIN: VISIONS OF MULTICULTURALISM IN AN AMERICAN TOWN
      (pp. 101-131)
      Austin Sarat

      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 town of about thirty-five thousand residents situated at the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains about one hundred miles west of Boston. It is home to two colleges and the University of Massachusetts, as well as a substantial population of well-educated professionals. On the town common, directly in front of the town hall, fly both the American flag and the flag of...

    • 5 UNIVERSAL PARTICULARISM: MAKING AN ETHICAL ISLAMIC SCHOOL IN CHICAGO
      (pp. 132-163)
      Barnaby B. Riedel

      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 teacher at an Islamic private school in the suburbs of Chicago; the second is from the website of a mainstream American character-education curriculum, called Character Counts! This curriculum is now being implemented in hundreds of public and private schools across the country, including the Islamic private school at which the quoted science teacher works. The convergence of diverse religious and cultural groups around...

    • 6 THE REACH AND LIMITS OF CULTURAL ACCOMMODATION: PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND SOMALI MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS IN MAINE
      (pp. 164-203)
      Heather L. Lindkvist

      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 from the majority. In the public high school in Lewiston, Maine, divisive issues in social and political philosophy have been playing themselves out over such (as it turns out, only apparently) quotidian concerns as what to wear to school (or to gym class), what to eat, and where or when to pray. In addressing these concerns, school administrators, teachers, parents, and students...

    • 7 REPUBLICAN IRONIES: EQUALITY AND IDENTITIES IN FRENCH SCHOOLS
      (pp. 204-224)
      John R. Bowen

      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 over inequality and social exclusion. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, anxieties over integration and immigration have led some countries to make sharp turns away from multicultural policies and have led others to further tighten rules of entry and heighten demands for assimilation. Islam and Muslims are central to these debates and divisions.

      School policies in each European country have reflected...

  8. PART IV JUST SCHOOLS IN THE WORLD
    • 8 DIVERSITY, TRANSFORMATIVE CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION, AND SCHOOL REFORM
      (pp. 227-253)
      James A. Banks

      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 national patriotism (Castles 2004; Westheimer 2007). However, approaches to developing national patriotism failed to help students develop critical thinking skills; alienated them from their homes and community cultures and languages; and failed to help them develop cosmopolitan attitudes, values, and behaviors that are needed to function effectively in today’s global world society. There are limitations to...

    • 9 AFTER JUST SCHOOLS: THE EQUALITY-DIFFERENCE PARADOX AND CONFLICTING VARIETIES OF LIBERAL HOPE
      (pp. 254-290)
      Richard A. Shweder

      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, and benevolent safekeeping of the vulnerable—that are aspects of the liberal political ideal of equal regard for all citizens. These four values have changed in different ways throughout public policy debates about the equality-difference paradox and the appropriate place for multiculturalism in American schools. The idea of an equality-difference paradox refers to the tension or tradeoff between public policies supporting genuine cultural diversity...

  9. Index
    (pp. 291-300)