Dissertation

Educational Justice: Knowledge, Formation, and Pedagogical Responsibility

My dissertation advances a new, distinctly educational, account of educational justice to guide educational research and policy. It is divided into three parts which accomplish the following tasks: (1) present the limitations of the current dominant paradigm for theorizing and pursuing educational justice, (2) advance a new paradigm that avoids these limitations, and (3) outline theoretical and policy implications of the new paradigm.

The first part of the dissertation 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. The purpose of the first part is to provide a philosophical justification for rejecting conventional education policies which legitimize an unjust social structure and perpetuate disadvantage.

The second part 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 educational research and policy toward what I claim to be the two distinctly educational injustices of epistemic oppression and (moral and intellectual) malformation. Beyond their educational implications, it is argued that epistemic oppression and malformation are at least partly responsible for pressing contemporary problems such as social injustice, systemic oppression, loss of trust in democracy, and the spread of harmful ideology. The purpose of the second part is to provide an alternative lens for theorizing educational injustice, which foregrounds the necessity of enacting transformative policies that disrupt the unjust social structure and empower disadvantaged groups.

The third part concludes the dissertation by outlining the theoretical and policy implications of replacing the standard distributive paradigm with a democratic paradigm of knowledge diffusion and developmental enablement that disrupts the impact of harmful ideology in moral and intellectual formation. 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 policy alternatives that satisfy these conditions. The purpose of the third part is to trace the contours of the new paradigm of educational justice and prompt future research that builds on, and decision-making that applies, the new paradigm.