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Liberal Democracy, Equal Educational Opportunity and the Challenge of Multiculturalism

Publisher: American Educational Research Journal, 29 (3)
Page Numbers: 455-470

Liberal political theory in general, as well as liberal educational theory in particular, has been largely silent on the challenge posed by multiculturalism. This lacuna results from the tendency to conflate "cultural" and "political" communities and to conceive of equality exclusively in terms of the latter. The result is that equality of educational opportunity is potentially rendered a sham for cultural minorities insofar as they are required to confront educational ideals and practices that are "culturally encumbered" in a way that reflects only the values and interests of the dominant social group. This article argues that "progressive" liberal educational theory can satisfactorily respond to the challenge posed by multicultural education when concepts such as "freedom" and "opportunity" are properly analyzed and when the demand to promote self-respect among citizens is taken seriously.