'Schools are for us': The importance of distribution, recognition and representation to creating socially just schools
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Whilst there are clearly some teachers and some mainstream schools that are passionate about social justice, current educational reforms continue to favour a neoliberal paradigm that works against implementing socially just practices in schools. These reforms, aptly referred to as GERM (global education reform movement) by Pasi Sahlberg (2011), restrict notions of educational ‘reform’ to developing processes that facilitate: prescribed curricula; enforced external testing; test-based accountability for students, teachers and schools; narrowing of curricular choices to focus upon ‘important’ ‘core’ subjects such as literacy, numeracy and science; narrowing of pedagogical strategies in favour of direct instruction so that learning ‘goals’ may be ‘guaranteed’; and corporate management models of schools and the marketisation of education. Thus, for this chapter, we have looked outside the mainstream schooling sector to learn from those schools resisting such trends and whose characteristics suggest the enacting of a more socially just educational framework. In defining this framework, we draw on Fraser’s (1997, 2009) concepts of ‘distribution’ (material resources), ‘recognition’ (valuing of difference) and ‘representation’ (student voice).
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