MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Taming the Conflict over Educational Equality

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


This article proposes an approach to educational distribution that attempts to minimise enduring tensions among conflicting values. At the foundation of this approach is a threshold of educational adequacy based on what is needed for citizens to participate in a democratic society. This threshold is justified because it minimises conflict with parental rights and because it better manages ‘the bottomless pit’ problem of educational distribution. This threshold is then modified to stipulate that, after the threshold has been reached, public resources should be distributed equally across students from all backgrounds. While this modification is essential to sending messages of equal citizenship, it also leaves a ‘moral residue’ because it allows wealthy parents to invest greater private resources in their children, thus preserving their children's competitive advantage. Minimising this harm requires policy mechanisms outside of schools that more aggressively break the link between educational outcomes, success in market competition, and social goods. Something ‘external’ to educational institutions is necessary, then, for the achievement of educational justice.