We commonly hear “social justice” used to broadly describe the need for society at large to treat individuals equitably. To educators who have dedicated their lives to implementing change and reform in schools, social justice means redefining what it means to have educational equality.
Social justice in education demands equity for all students, but it also yearns for growth that is provoked by student diversity. The variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from race, ethnicity, gender/gender identity, religious and spiritual beliefs, class, age, color, sexual orientation, disability, immigrant status, and national origin enhance creativity and learning potential. Making educators hew to a strict set of guidelines sets the expectation that each class fits a prefab curriculum. Education works when teachers are empowered to incorporate students’ backgrounds and experiences as strengths rather than view them as hurdles to overcome.
Simply put, social justice in education refers to a commitment to challenging social, cultural, and economic inequalities imposed on individuals arising from any differential distribution of power, resources, and privilege.
What is wrong with the concept described as “social justice” in our school systems? How is implementing these social justice ideas in our schools impacting the relationships of students and how are these social programs impacting our student’s education?