John Dewey Speaks to Brown: Research, Democratic Social Movement Strategies, and the Struggle for Education on Equal Terms
by John Rogers & Jeannie Oakes - 2005
This article explores how a revitalized public life promises to be far more effective than conventional school reform in bringing more equitable education policy. Participatory social inquiry stands in contrasts to the limited and mostly technical focus of equity reforms that began with Great Society policies in the 1960s and 1970s and that continues today. These equity reforms have largely failed to account for the deeply held and pervasive cultural norms about race, merit, and schooling that sustain inequality. The authors find an alternative model for equity reform in John Dewey's later work. Engaging citizens in Deweyan-inspired public social inquiry can yield knowledge that defines high-quality education, merit, and achievement in racially inclusive ways. By participating in social inquiry, low-income parents and parents of color have the opportunity to remake their image, becoming actors in an organizing "movement" context. Their engagement helps frame a powerful story of parents and communities who want and deserve high-quality education and who know what education can and should be. As such stories take hold in the public consciousness, cultural obstacles to equity can be challenged more successfully, thereby advancing Brown's promise of education on equal terms.
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