Social norms, racial narratives and the mission of public education
Schools provide social groups with different types of knowledge, thereby reproducing the social division of labor and reinforcing the ideological, social and economic status quo. They are often structured in ways that parallel the organization of society at large and distribute and legitimate values that flow from dominant groups. By functioning in this way they reinforce social arrangements that privilege the most powerful. Simultaneously, however, schools can function to subvert social patterns. The very mission of public schooling represents inclusiveness and the education of all people. Furthermore, the cultivation of inquiry can foster dissent, deviance, and an authority-subverting culture of critical discourse (Gouldner 1979). This article highlights how schools serve in the perpetuation of racialized patterns of inequality. It also provides insight into ways to improve our effectiveness in educating youth about civic responsibility and the importance of socially conscious leadership, broadly understood to be the millennial goals for academia.