Social Justice in Australian Schooling: Pre-Covid, the impact of Covid and possibilities post-Covid

Year: 2021

Author: Lingard, Bob

Type of paper: Symposium

This paper focuses on inequalities in Australian schooling. This focus will be situated against a conceptualisation of social justice in education drawing on the work of Nancy Fraser (redistribution, recognition, representation), including consideration of the impact of globalization on how to conceptualise and operationalise it. The context will also include an account of the contemporary debates in sociology concerning the return of inequality (Savage, 2021) and related debates regarding meritocracy ad social mobility (Markovitz, 2019; Sandel, 2020; Wooldridge, 2021). The central point will be made that growing inequality limits the possibilities for schooling to function in a meritocratic and socially just way. The impact of Covid on schooling and inequalities will be dealt with and shown to starkly demonstrate unacceptable inequalities. The paper will then move to outline in a skeletal fashion what needs to be done to ensure schooling in Australia works in more socially just ways. This includes, inter alia, funding, progressive use of data, curriculum, pedagogies that make a difference, staffing and the necessity of addressing broader inequalities.  The argument will be that all now work against the interests of the most disadvantaged and instead work for the already advantaged.