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Australian schools: Engines of inequality

Perry, L.B. and Lubienski, C. (2014) Australian schools: Engines of inequality. The Conversation, 13 May 2014 .

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Like many of the English-speaking market democracies, Australia and, perhaps to a lesser extent the US, like to think of themselves as merit-based societies in which everyone has a “fair go". This idea led to the creation of school systems that guaranteed all children, no matter their origins, access to a publicly funded education. By creating educational and economic opportunity, this arguably helped the emergence of strong middle classes in each country.

But the current reality is of education systems that are socially stratified and full of inequalities. There is much evidence to suggest that our schools, rather than promoting equity, are effectively serving as engines of inequality. This is true of schools in other countries that have embraced choice and competition to organise education.

Social stratification in the Australian education system is sharper than in most countries. Students from wealthy, privileged backgrounds tend to go to high-fee, independent high schools. Kids from low-income, disadvantaged backgrounds tend to go to government high schools.

Publication Type: Non-refereed Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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