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Article

Kitty te Riele, Glenda McGregor, Martin Mills, Aspa Baroutsis, and Debra Hayes

International organizations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as well as governments in OECD member countries are implementing policies aimed at increasing secondary school completion rates. Some decades ago, the senior secondary years were an exclusive option for an elite minority. Now, a common expectation is that they will cater to 90% or so of young people. However, too often the practices in contemporary schooling contexts have not kept up with this change. In particular, there is extensive evidence that concerning numbers of socially and educationally marginalized students are rejected by, and themselves reject, mainstream schooling. As a result, in many jurisdictions alternative educational provision has been central to re-engaging young people and enabling their secondary school completion. Such provision includes “flexible,” “second-chance,” or “alternative” schools that, although not all the same, often have in common an inclusive and democratic approach to educating young people who have not been well served in mainstream schools. Rather than such alternative schools being seen only as a useful “stop-gap” measure for marginalized students, they offer a valuable opportunity to re-imagine education. Such sites demonstrate structural, relational, and curricular changes that enable a range of education and learning options. First, in terms of structures, practical support and wraparound services are central to removing or alleviating structural barriers and clearing a path for learning. Second, supportive relationships are significant in enhancing the quality of young people’s educational experiences and outcomes. In particular, connectedness and partnerships are key factors. Finally, a diverse curriculum is needed to facilitate an education that is meaningful and authentic, and builds the capabilities young people need in the 21st century. Initiatives aimed at speaking more meaningfully to young people who have traditionally been poorly served by schooling are at the core of many alternative schools, but they are also present in outstanding mainstream schools. These innovations offer inspiration for reform across all schools, for all students. Embedding such reform through broad systemic change in mainstream schooling is necessary to facilitate an education for all young people that is: meaningful in holistic ways, democratic and respectful, supportive and enabling, and equips them with the skills and knowledge to progress their hopes, dreams, and imagined futures.

Article

Anthony H. Normore and Antonia Issa Lahera

To commit to Brown v. Board of Education’s legacy of advancing social justice and democracy, it is necessary to look at practices (i.e., the types of discourse, experiences, processes, and structures) that promote the development and support of school leaders committed to social justice, equity, access, and diversity. Leadership preparation programs need to provide the knowledge base for aspiring school leaders to understand how they ought to respond to the changing political, moral, and social landscapes in which they live and work. Of equal importance is the curricular focus on interrelating social justice, democracy, equity, and diversity so that aspiring school leaders can identify practices that explicitly and implicitly deter social progress. Furthermore, these school leaders ought to be able to develop a knowledge base on how to respond to these injustices in their school leadership practices. As leadership development and preparation program personnel prepare new leaders, the discourse of social justice and marginalization is an important objective in the curriculum of preparation programs. Personnel in leadership programs have an opportunity to take part in discourse about how to shape the quality of leaders they produce for the good of society. To this end, researchers offer critical insights into the types of discourse, experiences, processes, and structures that promote the development and support of contemporary principals committed to social justice and democratic principles. Included in the research discussion are the tenets of social justice leadership, democracy, diversity and the digital divide, digital access, and digital equity.

Article

The theme of social justice appears to be central in education research. A polysemic and sometimes empty notion, social justice can be defined, constructed, and used in different ways, which makes it a problematic notion to work with intra- and interculturally. Global education research has often relied on constructions of the notion as they have been “done” in the West, leaving very little space to constructions from peripheries. This problematic and somewhat biased approach often leads to research that ignores local contexts and local ways of “discoursing” about social justice. Although some countries are said to be better at social justice in education (e.g., top performers in the OECD PISA studies), there is a need to examine critically and reflexively how it is “done” in different contexts (“winners” and “losers” of international rankings) on macro- and micro-levels. Two different educational utopias, China and Finland, are used to illustrate the different constructions of social justice, and more specifically marginalization and belonging in relation to migrant students—an omnipresent figure in world education—in the two countries. A call for learning with each other about social justice, and questioning too easily accepted definitions and/or formulas, is made.

Article

Intersectionality is celebrated in education research for its capacity to illuminate how identities like race, gender, class, and ability interact and shape individual experiences, social practices, institutions, and ideologies. However, although widely invoked among educational researchers, intersectionality is rarely unpacked or theorized. It is treated as a simple, settled concept despite the fact that, outside education research, it has become in the early 21st century one of the most hotly debated concepts in social science research. Education researchers should therefore clarify and, where appropriate, complicate their uses of intersectionality. One important issue requiring clarification concerns the question: “Who is intersectional?” While some critical social scientists represent intersectionality as a theory of multiple marginalization, others frame it as a theory of multiple identities. Either choice entails theoretical and practical trade-offs. When researchers approach intersectionality as a theory of multiple marginalization, they contribute to seeking redress for multiply marginalized subjects’ experiences of violence and erasure, yet this approach risks representing multiply marginalized communities as damaged, homogenous, and without agency, while leaving the processes maintaining dominance uninterrogated. When scholars approach intersectionality as a theory of multiple identities, meanwhile, they may supply a fuller account of the processes by which advantage and disadvantage co-constitute one another, but they risk recentering Whiteness, deflecting conversations about racism, and marginalizing women of color in the name of inclusivity. A review of over 60 empirical and conceptual papers in educational research shows that such trade-offs are not often made visible in our field. Education researchers should therefore clarify their orientations to intersectionality: They should name the approach(es) they favor, make arguments for why such approaches are appropriate to a particular project, and respond thoughtfully to potential limitations.

Article

Boni Wozolek

Critical geography, as it is studied in North America and parts of Europe, has been growing since the 1970s. However, focusing on gender, sexual orientation, race, home language, or the like, was not a primary concern of the field until the mid-1980s. As radical critical geography shifted toward cultural and critical geography, marginalized voices could be heard in and across the field in local and less-local contexts. As critical geography began to intersect with education in the mid-1990s, it became a tool for studying marginalization across layers of scale. Fields of geography are impacted as much by contemporary sociopolitical dialogues as they are by educational research and its related historical boundaries and borders. Finally, it is significant to consider what a critical gender-queer geography might mean as the field continues to grow.

Article

Alberto Arenas and Rebecca Perez

Marginalized knowledges are the intergenerational knowledges and skills from communities worldwide that hegemonic forces have pushed to the margins of society. These include facts, beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, behaviors, and competencies. Marginalized knowledges are part of the human capital that materially poor rural and urban peoples have developed over time—both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. These knowledges are situated and contextualized in a given time and locality, and have evolved to fulfill economic, social, environmental, spiritual, or cultural needs. School systems worldwide in the 19th and 20th centuries adopted an official, hegemonic curriculum that ignored and displaced these vital knowledges at a great loss to poor communities. Fortunately, different pedagogies exist today (e.g., pedagogy of place; funds of knowledge; civic service) that seek to bring these knowledges to the center of school life and provide a complementary, parallel role to that of the school’s official curriculum.

Article

Marginalized populations are by definition composed of people who have fewer possibilities and options in their lives than those studying them. This fact has to be reflected before, during, and after the research itself. There are many facets of this basic assumption. One of them is, how are marginalized perceived by the researcher? Are they helpless victims, or people who are able to tell their own stories? Another relevant detail is the personality of the researcher. When the researcher comes from outside the marginalized group, the key question is, which methodology can be best applied to give a voice to those who are marginalized? On the other hand, when the researcher is a member of the group being studied, the key question is how to achieve the distance necessary for analysis. There could be many more such relevant facets, but the quality of the final research product is partially determined by any number of decisions that are made during the planning of the research and the conducting of the research. All of these decisions have methodological consequences. There are a wide range of qualitative research approaches, such as participatory research, autoethnographic research, narrative and biographical research, or traditional qualitative research based on interviews with representatives of marginalized groups. In the early 21st century, there has been a shift away from a top-down, outsider perspective that sees the marginalized as helpless victims and toward more participatory research designs that promote and give a space to the marginalized voice. The common denominator of all these decisions is whose voice is being heard—does it belong to the marginalized group or to the outside world? Is it possible to overcome the boundaries between these two worlds? And what role does methodology play in this story?

Article

Marta Caballeros, Jeannette Bran, and Gabriela Castro

Inclusive education, as stated in declarations and human development goals, features in the educational policies being implemented in Central American and Caribbean (CA-DR) countries (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic). The policies seek to give the entire population of each country permanent access to quality education services, and they have a particular focus on people with disabilities. However, there are considerable challenges to be overcome, caused by a combination of historical factors and the sociopolitical and economic context. Some of the countries still have significant levels of poverty and inequity, both of which hinder the development of inclusive education. At the same time, inclusive education is expected to help eradicate social exclusion and facilitate social mobility. This paradigm began as an effort to secure disabled people’s right to education, and countries have since been working to offer disabled people access to regular schools. Nevertheless, segregated education services or services with an integration aim still persist. Moreover, poverty causes many students to drop out of school, or never to enroll at all. Each country has vulnerable or marginalized groups in its population. The work being done, from an inclusive perspective, follows two main routes: reorienting education systems toward inclusivity; and offering these groups affirmative actions to ensure their regular attendance at mainstream schools that have quality programs for all. If CA-DR countries are to achieve inclusive education, they must fulfill two requirements. Firstly, they must develop intersectorial interventions that revert causes of exclusion—education policies in isolation are unable to do that. Secondly, they must take action to ensure that inclusive education is achieved in practice in the classroom. There are advances toward inclusion, but more work is needed to answer the question of how CA-DR countries can develop inclusive societies, based on social protection and quality education services for all, that give proper attention to diversity, practice equity, and promote social mobility. Bottom-up strategies are valuable in the effort to achieve inclusive education.

Article

“Food security” is a term that came into use in the second half of the 20th century as government leaders and nongovernmental organizations began to apply systemic thought to global issues of availability of food, the safety and nutritional sufficiency of available food, and the stability of individuals’ access to it. Hunger and starvation as global problems began to be studied at the end of World War II. Concerns about global food supply management prompted the establishment of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and increasing levels of policymaking and intervention, enacted through a series of conferences and culminating in a World Food Summit in 1996. Although world food production increased by 50% in the decades following WWII and the 1990s were believed to be a “golden age” of food security, the United Nations believes that before the 2020 world health crisis some 815 million people experienced chronic hunger. Spikes in unemployment such as those associated with the 2008 world financial crisis and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic cause accompanying increases in food insecurity. Global climate change continually challenges efforts to address food-related crises, and at the same time rising numbers of refugees add to the numbers of people who would be food insecure even if all other conditions were optimal. Awareness of the special role of gender within this field has only begun to develop since the first decade of the 21st century. Although the field of food studies is older, most academic studies of food focus on histories of specific commodities, regional folkways, and/or food and literature. Systemic studies of food policy outcomes have not examined gender as a vector of knowledge until about 2010. Consequently, this more specialized field of knowledge remains in an early stage of development, with activists at the forefront more often than academics. Considerable pushback has emerged against the idea that experts should educate locals about food, and many food activists now argue that education should arise from those in production rather than those who create policy. Women represent 60% of all people living with hunger and food insecurity. They also make up at least 60% of agricultural workers. Most of these women growing food are feeding families and regions rather than aspiring to be participants in global economies. As women they experience food insecurity because of cultural gender biases, and as farmers they are twice disadvantaged because neither agriculture nor women’s production within families tends to garner widespread respect or wealth. Gender-blindness has plagued efforts to resolve these issues even when the UN and others have placed women’s progress at the forefront of millennium goals. Organizations charged with analysis of poverty and hunger still operate using out-of-date analytical tools that themselves perpetuate sexist discrimination. “Global” does not necessarily mean more progressive or inclusive. Despite the discourse of goodwill, in practice the unquestioned dominance of WWII-era paradigms of large-scale agricultural production and food supply chains has limited rather than supported collective ability to effect change. In the final years of the 20th century, a growing number of alternative voices such as the anti-globalist scholar Vandana Shiva and fair trade and sustainability groups like Café Campesino began to introduce dissenting ideas about food security using the terminology of food sovereignty and biodiversity, tying these concepts to the empowerment of women, local communities, and “eaters.”