Bortolotti, Lisa, and Daniela Cutas. Reproductive and Parental Autonomy: An Argument for Compulsory Education

2009, Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 19 (Ethics Supplement): 5-14.

Abstract: In this paper we argue that society should make available reliable information about parenting to everybody from an early age. The reason why parental education is important (when offered in a comprehensive and systematic way) is that it can help young people understand better the responsibilities associated with reproduction, and the skills required for parenting. This would allow them to make more informed life-choices about reproduction and parenting, and exercise their autonomy with respect to these choices. We do not believe that parental education would constitute a limitation of individual freedom. Rather, the acquisition of relevant information about reproduction and parenting and the acquisition of self-knowledge with respect to reproductive and parenting choices can help give shape to individual life plans. We make a case for compulsory parental education on the basis of the need to respect and enhance individual reproductive and parental autonomy within a culture that presents contradictory attitudes towards reproduction and where decisions about whether to become a parent are subject to significant pressure and scrutiny.

Comment: This text provides a clear overview of debates about reproductive autonomy and compulsory education. It also contains responses to well known criticisms of compulsory parental education. It would be best used in a course dealing with issues of parenthood and procreation, reproduction, or autonomy in a medical context.

Darby, Derrick, and . Adequacy, Inequality, and Cash for Grades

2011, Theory and Research in Eduation 9 (3): 209-232.

Abstract: Some political philosophers have recently argued that providing K-12 students with an adequate education suffices for social justice in education provided that the threshold of educational adequacy is properly understood. Others have argued that adequacy is insufficient for social justice. In this article I side with the latter group. I extend this debate to racial inequality in education by considering the controversial practice of paying students cash for grades to close the racial achievement gap. I then argue that framing the demand for racial justice in education solely in terms of educational adequacy leaves us unable to take issue with the cash for grades policy as a matter of principle. While this does not entail that educational adequacy is unimportant, it adds to the general case for why adequacy does not suffice for social justice.

Comment: This text is a good rejoinder to Anderson and Satz's arguments concerning the shift from a focus on providing an equal education to an adequate education. Though it could be read in absence of those texts, it requires a familiarity with the idea of sufficientarianism - and so should probably be read after Anderson's "Fair Opportunity in Education: A Democratic Equality Perspective." It would have a place in a course concerning egalitarianism in education, racial justice, or education and democracy.

Gutmann, Amy, and . Democratic Education

1999, Princeton University Press.

Publisher’s Note: Who should have the authority to shape the education of citizens in a democracy? This is the central question posed by Amy Gutmann in the first book-length study of the democratic theory of education. The author tackles a wide range of issues, from the democratic case against book banning to the role of teachers’ unions in education, as well as the vexed questions of public support for private schools and affirmative action in college admissions.

Comment: Comprehensive and insightful treatment of the subject of education in a democracy. Could provide a main text for a specialised lecture or seminar, or solid further reading on a more general module for anyone particularly interested in civic education.