Social justice, R.W. Connell contends, is an inextricable part of any educational system, and democratic societies should give priority to the educational needs of the disadvantaged. In this remarkable manifesto, one of education's most distinguished voices cautions that school systems dealing unjustly with their disadvantaged students degrade the quality of education for all.
The book's compelling, well-reasoned arguments call for new social policies. Drawing on research experience in the United States, Canada, Britain, and Australia, Connell demonstrates the weakness in programs that attempt merely to establish equal opportunity. He observes that scholarships, compensatory education, desegregation, and affirmative action focus on distributive justice, rather than on the nature of the education.
Curricular justice, Connell argues, is just as crucial as distributive justice. Considering race, class, and gender issues, he examines the relation between knowledge and its social content. He describes how curricular content, presentation, and means of student assessment can perpetuate social injustice. Tracing the elitist sources of various curricula, Schools and Social Justice urges reconceptualizing the curriculum from the point of view of the disadvantaged and offers examples of successful efforts to do this.