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Social Justice in Times of Crisis and Hope

Young People, Well-being and the Politics of Education


Edited By Shane Duggan, Emily Gray, Peter James Kelly, Kirsty Finn and Jessica Gagnon

The first two decades of the 21st century have been characterised by conflict, displacement, growing economic insecurity and austerity. Increasing social polarisation has meant that contemporary societies are becoming more unequal with smaller segments of the population having access to the most wealth. Ongoing conflicts around the world and the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe has only intensified calls for justice, equity, compassion and understanding. We live in times of despair and conflict, but also times of hope and action.

Social Justice in Times of Crisis and Hope examines the possibilities and consequences of the relationship between young people, well-being, education and social justice in times of crisis and hope. Drawing together contributions from around the globe, the chapters examine the role of young people in contemporary social movements, the kinds of demands that are being made by the world’s young people and the spaces within which they are making such demands. Authors engage with notions of justice and well-being, what this means in the contemporary moment and for whom. They interrogate the politics of increasingly global education to think about the limits and possibilities, challenges and opportunities, for education to play a role in delivering on the promise of social justice.

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Chapter Four: Fixing Futures: Politics, Citizenship, and Aspirational Policy Interventions in Chicago Public Schools (Shane Duggan)


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Fixing Futures

Politics, Citizenship, and Aspirational Policy Interventions in Chicago Public Schools


RMIT University, Australia


More young people than ever before are enrolling in post-secondary qualifications. Policy reforms across most OECD countries over the last three decades have led to the rapid expansion of the higher education sector. These shifts have placed significant pressure on established tertiary educational practices, and spurned a massive increase in new for-profit providers. Within these developments, levels of student debt have emerged as a key policy concern for many governments globally, with significant flow-on effects for how young people transition into the workforce, and make a life. Perhaps unsurprisingly, higher education reform has proceeded along well-worn lines of geographic, racial, and economic inequality. Alongside high-profile cases of young people being pressured into taking on large debts in exchange for dubious or bogus degrees is emerging a broader concern for how individuals and families identify, understand, and make decisions about their participation in higher education, and the value it confers against its corresponding economic, social, and temporal costs.

This chapter draws on Appadurai’s (2013) “terms of recognition” as a way of troubling the “crisis” of youth (un)employment and (dis)unity. It does this within the context of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2017 Learn. Plan. Succeed—A Degree for Life (hereafter Learn. Plan. Succeed) initiative, which requires students ← 73 | 74 → to develop...

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