The School of Education at CSUCI supports the Black Lives Matter movement and is dedicated to achieving racial and social justice in and through education. In collaboration with our students, faculty, staff, administrators, and P12 colleagues, we will be working throughout the 2020-2021 academic year to articulate how our commitment to racial and social justice is currently operationalized throughout our credential and graduate programs, and to identify the ways in which we can improve in these efforts.

What is a "social justice framework"?

According to Marilyn Coch​ran-Smith, a leading scholar in education, "Social justice-oriented approaches in education refer to standpoints and scholarly traditions that actively address the dynamics of oppression, privilege, and isms, recognizing that society is the product of historically rooted, institutionally sanctioned stratification along socially constructed group lines that include race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. Working for social justice in education means guiding students in critical self- reflection of their socialization into this matrix of unequal relationships and its implications, analysis of the mechanisms of oppression, and the ability to challenge these hierarchies" (in Sensoy & DiAngelo, 2009, p. 350). 

Brenda Alvarez (2019) makes the connection between social justice, teaching, and educational leadership clear, explaining that "social justice is about distributing resources fairly and treating all students equitably so that they feel safe and secure--physically and psychologically. Sadly, a look at schools across the nation makes it clear that fair distribution of resources and equitable treatment don't always happen" (para. 1). 

Commitment to a social justice framework in our School of Education requires that we work continuously to understand historic patterns of injustice and hold ourselves accountable for our actions in perpetuating, disrupting, and ameliorating those patterns in our PreK-12, postsecondary, and graduate education systems.

Basically, a social justice framework is a way of seeing and acting aimed at resisting unfairness and inequity while enhancing freedom and possibility for all.  It pays primary attention to how people, policies, practices, curricula, and institutions may be used to liberate rather than oppress those least served by our decision making.

Some examples (there are many more, some of which are contested) of principles guiding social justice work in education including the belief that:

  • Schools often reproduce rather than remedy the patterns of social exclusion and oppression seen in the larger society.
  • There are very real differentials in access to social and institutional power between relationally position group members, and those differentials exist in education settings.
  • While all people have socialized prejudices and can discriminate, only the dominant group is backed by social and institutional power, which is multidimensional and constantly operating, being contested, and renegotiated, especially within schools.
  • Those who claim to be for social justice must also be engaged in self-reflection on their own socialization into patterns of oppression and continually seek to counter those patterns.  This is a lifelong project and is not achieved at the completion of an article, workshop, or conference.


Alvarez, B., (2019, Jan. 22). Why social justice in school matters. NEA Today. Retrieved from

Sensoy, O. and DiAngelo, R. (2009, Jan.). Developing social justice literacy: An open letter to our faculty colleagues. Phi Delta Kappan, pp. 345-352.

Conference Themes (PDF, 345KB)

Conference for Social Justice in Education 

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