Educational Justice: Knowledge, Formation, and Pedagogical Responsibility

Educational justice has traditionally been conceptualized in non-educational terms. Categories of justice with economic and political clout dominate scholarly conversations on educational justice and inform educational policymaking and practice. This leads to a narrow conceptualization of educational justice in distributive terms. The author challenges the hegemony of the dominant paradigm and advances a new paradigm for theorizing educational justice to inform educational research, policymaking, and practice. In developing this new paradigm, the dissertation first establishes the dominance of distributive justice as a guiding principle of US education policy and as a lens for theorizing educational injustice in educational research. It offers a historical analysis of federal education policy focused on the principles of justice that underpinned the policies enacted. Moreover, it presents limitations of distributive justice, thereby, establishing the need to reconsider our understanding of what constitutes an educational injustice and what policies are appropriate for disrupting such injustices. Second, it advances an account of educational injustice that centers on the obstruction of two distinctly educational tasks: self-formation and knowledge acquisition. In doing so, it reorients education policy and research toward two distinctly educational injustices: epistemic oppression and developmental coercion. It is argued that these are severe educational wrongs that also contribute to pressing social problems and injustices. The dissertation concludes by outlining implications of replacing the standard distributive paradigm with a democratic paradigm of epistemic empowerment and developmental enablement that disrupts the impact of harmful ideology in moral and intellectual development. It suggests that the new paradigm forces us to reconsider that nature of educational injustice and, relatedly, the locus and scope of pedagogical responsibility for its disruption. Moreover, it outlines necessary conditions for educational justice to obtain and provides recommendations for action at the individual, collective, and policy level that can foster these conditions.