Considering “Justice” in Local Education Administration
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Educational justice
Aktionsrat Bildung
Submitted : 2023-06-21
Accepted : 2023-07-06
Published : 2023-07-21


This paper explores the concept of justice in the context of educational administration, particularly focusing on the equal distribution of education. The author examines two approaches to discussing “correctness” in normative values such as justice: normative political philosophy and the political theory of politics. The paper argues for a post-foundationalist approach that seeks to reconcile conflicting views on justifying norms and proposes ongoing discussions about their correctness. The main theoretical positions on the equal distribution of education, such as egalitarianism, priority theory, sufficiency theory, and the capability approach, are summarized. The paper then examines the implementation of “justice” in the German urban state of Hamburg, where a social index is used to support administrative measures that emphasize differences and approach educational justice. The conclusion emphasizes the importance of considering appropriate standards of justice in specific contexts for educational administration studies.


Tamura T, (eds) 2019 (in press), “Correctness and Politics” in Deliberative Democracy and Its Mediation: with a Focus on the Deliberative System Theory, in What Does It Mean to Be Correct in Politics, Keiso Shobo, Tokyo.

Tamura describes its “unsatisfactoriness” as “the defence of the uniqueness of ‘politics’ in political theory of politics can only lead to the conclusion that, in the end, everything is uncertain.”

See, e.g., Takada A, The Communicative Turn of Contemporary Thought, Chikuma Shobo, 2011, 106 and following.

Tamate S and Tabata S, Post-foundationalism no Mondai Kikan, in Tabata et al. (eds.), forthcoming.

Okochi T, Judgment without foundation: Reflective judgment and its extension as “political things”, in Tabata et al. (eds.), forthcoming. According to Akinori T, it was Arpel K-O who attempted to resolve the impossibility of the “foundation of the correctness of knowledge” by means of a “transcendental language game” by a “communicative community”, and Habermas’ theory of communicative action is positioned as an extension of this. Ibid, p. 108 and following.

See, Miyadera A, 2006, Distributional Theory of Education, Keiso Shobo, Tokyo; Ibid, 2011, Reexamination of Equality of Educational Opportunity, Iwanami Shoten, Tokyo; Tahara H, 2014, The Distributional Theory of Education: A Retrospective Perspective, Journal of the Sociology of Education, 94, 2014.

The terminology in this section is basically based on Tahara, supra. See also Usami M et al., (eds) 2019, Justice Theory from Basics to Frontiers, Law Bunka Sha.

Miyadera A, 2006, cited above. Ibid, 2014, Restoration of “Equality of Educational Opportunity”: Can Parents Decide their Children’s School?, in Miyadera, ed. Ibid, 2104, Justice Theory of Education, Keiso Shobo, Tokyo.

Miyadera, 2006, above. Miyadera seems to regard this argument as one expression of the embodiment of J. Rawls’ disparity principle, in which he seems to emphasize that the disparity principle needs to be applied not only to the distribution of ex post benefits, but especially in the distribution of educational opportunities. Nevertheless, the disparity principle conditionally permits social inequalities, so the observation here may not be accurate.

Yasuda N, 2014, Equality of Educational Opportunity: Currency, Time and Philosophy, in Teruyuki Hirota and Akio Miyadera (eds), Education System and Society: A Theoretical Examination, Seori Shobo.

However, it is argued that the priority theory also causes a “pulling down” of the top, since the comparative advantage of the top is considered to be undermined by an increase in the level of education and “ability” of the bottom, even if the level of the top remains constant. Yoda, ibid.

Tahara, above.

Hirai Y, What ‘Deliberative Democracy’ Brings: The Tug of War between Diversity and Integration, in Miyadera, 2011, cited above.

Miyadera, 2014, p. 49.

Uzuki Y, Considering the Principles of Institutional Design of Public Education, in Hirota and Miyadera, (eds) 2014, above, forthcoming.

The practical implications of meritocratic conception, as noted by Tahara, are also difficult to understand according to Tahara’s solution. Literally interpreted, it seems to mean equality in the distribution of achievements among sub-groups distinguished by their social hierarchical background, i.e., “equality of results”. See, e.g., Tahara, above.

Hirai, 2011, above. For school finance system litigation over disparities between school districts in the US, see, Shiraishi Y, 2014, Seeking Equality in the Quality of Education: Trends and Legal Principles of US Adequacy School Finance System Litigation, Kyodo Publishing, Tokyo, and Zhu C, 2016, Fairness in the US School Finance System, Toshindo.

See Kariya T, 2009, Education and Equality: How Popular Education Society Was Generated, Chuokoron Shinsha, Tokyo, pp. 178 and following.

Ibid, p. 248.

Sadahiro, Saiko, 2013, Out-of-school Supplementary Learning Expenses Expenditure Trends and Regional Characteristics: Based on Socio-economic Data, Chiba University Faculty of Education Research Bulletin, Vol. 61. Sadahiro, Saiko, 2014, Education Strategy and Regional Characteristics from the Private Burden Tendency of Out-of-School Supplementary Study Expenses: On the Fluctuation of Public and Private Expenses for Education, Annual Report of the Japanese Society for Educational Policy Studies, Vol. 20, and The Reconstruction of the Public-Private Sharing Structure in Education Finance and Issues on the Fiscal Principle: A Research Agenda Trial of Education Finance Studies”, Chiba University, Faculty of Education Bulletin, Vol. 64, 2014. See also Bulletin of the Faculty of Education, Chiba University, Vol. 64, 2016.

Of course, this does not mean that the involvement of the public administration with individual children and families as a unit is unimportant or of low priority.

The choice of Germany as a source of material is due to the author’s personal research interest over the years, but generally speaking, it is due to (i) certain similarities in the local administrative and financial systems, including educational administration and finance, and (ii) certain similarities in the social context in which justice in education is an issue.

The narrative in this section below overlaps in part with Maehara K, 2011, The Development of the “Justice in Education” Debate in Germany, Annual Review of Educational Research (Department of School Education and Lifelong Education, Tokyo Gakugei University, No. 30.

BMBF, Bildungsbericht, 2016, Chancengerechtigkeit und Teilhabe. Ergebnisse aus der Forschung. Bielefeld/Berlin. However, this is criticized, as it does not ultimately include the individual’s improvement. There is criticism that the improvement of the disadvantageous situation itself is not included therein. Vgl., Siewert, J., Bildungsungerechtigkeit und was Lehrer*innendagegen tun können. In: Pädagogik, 2019(10).

For example, J. Rawls’ Justice as Fairness is described as “Gerechtigkeit als Fairness.”

Vereinigung der Bayerischen Wirtschaft e. V. (Hrsg.), Bildungsgerechtigkeit- Jahresgutachten 2007. Aktionsrat Bildung. 2007. ARBFor an overview of the members and activities of the Cf.,

Vereinigung der Bayerischen Wirtschaft e. V. (Hrsg.), op.cit., p.18.

Giesinger, J., 2007, Was heißt Bildungsgerechtigkeit? In: Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 53(3).

Vereinigung der Bayerischen Wirtschaft e. V. (Hrsg.), op.cit., p. 20ff.

Stojanov, K. 2008, Educational justice as a restriction of freedom?, In:Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 54(4).

Stoyanov’s argument is based on the arguments of the so-called Frankfurt School’s A. Honneth. On Honneth, see Masao Higure, Social Theory of Debate and Approval: Habermas and Honneth, Keiso Shobo, 2008.

Bertelsmann Stiftung, et al. (Hg), 2014, Chancenspiegel 2014. Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2014, p.15.

It has a population of approximately 1.8 million and an area slightly larger than the total area of the 23 wards of Tokyo.

In addition to Hamburg, Bremen, Berlin and Saarland have adopted this two-pillar system in principle as of 2020.

Vgl., (see Hamburg Ministry of Education website, May 29 2020).

Groot-Wilken, B. et al., (eds) 2016, Social Indices for Schools: Background, Methods and Application. Waxmann, pp.10–11 (Introduction).

Social environment (unemployment rate in the school district, welfare receipt rate, election voting rate), cultural capital (number of books in the home library, museum visits, parental education), economic capital (income, parental job position, availability of children’s room), social capital (friendships, parental relationships, parental evaluation of grades, parental evaluation of children), immigration background (country of origin, parental language environment, siblings’ German environment). Data for each school not included in the social index, the number of applicants for admission, the number of pupils who have been assessed as suitable for Gimnazium and the number of students who remain in school each year are also available at all times.

Aus: (see Hamburg Ministry of Education website, May 29 2020)

Aus: (see above)

Although not a direct argument, in an interview the author conducted with a secondary education officer at the Hamburg Ministry of Education in March 2020, the officer stressed the importance of supporting disadvantaged community schools.