Over 90 percent of Americans believe that equality of opportunity is an ‘absolutely essential’ American ideal. This ideal is key to ongoing conversations about social mobility in the US, particularly with respect to public education.
About the project
The purpose of this website is to serve as a resource for academics, college and graduate students, teachers, school administrators, and interested citizens to learn about philosophical debates about equality of opportunity, and what these debates mean for the public provision of education. The site provides an annotated bibliography of major works, topically organized into three sections, about equality of opportunity and its application to education. The fourth section offers a list of major court cases in the US that have addressed different aspects of equality of opportunity in education, with links to the decisions and notes about the rulings.
An introduction to the equality of opportunity
Freedom and equality are foundational values that we draw upon when envisioning a better society. Equality of opportunity is a social ideal that combines concern with freedom as opportunity and equality, and this social ideal provides a vision of how we ought to live together.
Section 1: The general idea of equality of opportunity
This section introduces the general concept of equality of opportunity and contrasts it with an alternative principle, equality of outcome.
Section 2: Debates about equality of opportunity
This section surveys some of the most influential conceptions of equality of opportunity and some of the key debates about them.
- Formal Equality of Opportunity
- Fair Equality of Opportunity
- Equality of Opportunity for Welfare
Section 3: Applications to Education
This section summarizes some of the major debates around the application of conceptions of equality of opportunity to educational institutions and educational policy.
- Equality and Adequacy
- Equality of Opportunity for Citizenship
- Equality of Opportunity and the Family
- Private School and School Choice
- Groups and Individuals
- Higher Education
Section 4: Lawsuits about Education and Equality
This section provides a thematically organized list of landmark legal cases in the US relevant to realizing equality of opportunity in education, with links to the decisions.