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The public vs. private school choice debate: pluralism and recognition in education

TitleThe public vs. private school choice debate: pluralism and recognition in education
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsFabretti V
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date PublishedFebruary 2011
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
KeywordsPluralism and Multicultural Societies; Recognition; School Choice; Common/Denominational schools; Values, Religions and Civic Education

 Behind the families and communities of many Western countries, pressing politicians to promote a system of free school choice, one can recognize a criticism towards the idea of uniformity in education and the proposal of a school that is aware and respectful of the specific normative, cultural and religious systems in which students are involved. From this point of view, the issue of secondary school choice reflects in the educational field the wider problem of normative pluralism and the recognition of different identities in society. The paper describes how both European policies and the academic debate have taken account of this particular point, considering the implications of school pluralism with regards to young people’s independence, citizenship and social cohesion. We suggest that by putting the issue in such terms, even before we can draw any conclusions on the best way to regulate the private school sector, we could learn useful “lessons” for rethinking the educational model of state schools. In the Italian case, especially, the main lesson to be learned seems to be that students’ individual, socio-cultural, ethnic and religious differences ought to be “taken seriously” in order to foster the construction of young people’s identity, autonomy and citizenship.