Acceptance, Understanding, and the Moral Imperative of Promoting Social Justice Education in the Schoolhouse

by Nicholas D. Young (American International College), Elizabeth J. Bienia (Endicott College, Beverly, MA), Teresa A. Citro (Learning Disabilities Worldwide)

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The term ‘social justice’ has become cliché and overused. 'Acceptance, Understanding, and the Moral Imperative of Promoting Social Justice Education in the Schoolhouse' offers a fresh look at the concept of equity between students regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and other defining characteristics. The book takes a brief look at the fundamentals of social justice as well as federal law before turning to the more important job of identifying students and the benefits that social justice can bring to each and every individual. Strategies and approaches are included for the educator, parent, and professor alike, leaving the reader with an understanding of how social justice education can change the next generation of student.

Richard B. Holzman, Ed.D.
Senior Advisor for External Affairs
University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Springfield, MA
Superintendent of Schools, retired, Ware Public Schools, Ware, MA

'Acceptance, Understanding, and the Moral Imperative of Promoting Social Justice Education in the Schoolhouse' offers a solution to the daunting and sometimes overwhelming problems of discrimination and inequity in the classroom. The importance of home-school partnerships as a means to increase family buy-in as well as how educators can improve their personal craft using a social justice lens are addressed. The authors discuss how to use both the Common Core and social justice simultaneously in the classroom as well as how assessment bias plays a role in student performance. This book is of benefit to all educators who wish to dig in a bit deeper into social justice and begin to include more equitable strategies in the classroom.

Judith L. Klimkiewicz, Ed.D.
Senior Consultant for K-12 College/Career Education and Workforce Development
Commissioner's Office
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Superintendent of Schools, retired, Nashoba Valley Technical School District, MA

Social justice education is still somewhat in its infancy in America despite the diversity that has existed for hundreds of years. To that end, 'Acceptance, Understanding, and the Moral Imperative of Promoting Social Justice Education in the Schoolhouse' offers a close look at the possibilities that exist for students who find themselves in the classroom with a teacher who believes in teaching fairly despite the innate difficulties that come with that curriculum. The authors especially look at students who have academic and social challenges, those who are ethnically different, and those whose families may have come together by choice not chance. Equally as important are the students who may have differences in gender or sexual orientation; yet, the authors are clear – all children matter, all children deserve to learn, and all children can benefit from a curriculum rich with equity and understanding.

Anne E. Mead, Ed.D.
Director of Family, School, and Community Partnerships
Danbury Public Schools

This book examines the critical issues associated with the topic of social justice in primary and secondary education.

Understanding the challenges related to educational inequity requires a comprehensive and systematic re-examination of educational reform; specifically, this book defines social justice education, offers different perspectives from major thought leaders and examines the challenges faced by different populations when it comes to receiving equal opportunity and treatment. Emphasis will be placed on programs, approaches and strategies to increasingly teach tolerance, respect, and understanding within and between these groups and members of the majority culture. The focus, then, will be on educational practices designed to prepare students from diverse backgrounds to be active, contributing, and fully participatory members of our contemporary society.

This book is most appropriate for preservice and veteran teachers, school and educational psychologists, related special education service professionals, educational administrators, guidance counselors, graduate education professors, policymakers, parents, and student leaders who wish to gain a better understanding of how social justice can and should become a valuable part of the educational landscape.



1) Social Justice as a Teaching Construct: Fundamentals Under Review
Nicholas D. Young, PhD, EdD, American International College
Jennifer Innocenti, MA, American International College
Elizabeth Jean, EdD, Endicott College

2) Home-School Partnerships: Connecting with Families Through a Social Justice Lens
Elizabeth Jean, EdD, Endicott College
Nicholas D. Young, PhD, EdD, American International College

3) School Law and Policy: Promoting and Protecting Diverse Students
Jennifer A. Smolinski, JD, American International College

4) Gender and Sexual Orientation: Understanding the Differences Among Students
Elizabeth Jean, EdD, Endicott College
Doris Buckley, MEd, Northern Essex Community College

5) Reaching and Teaching Adoptees in the Classroom: Making All Feel Welcome
Karen Russo, EdD, St. Joseph’s College

6) Racial, Ethnic, and Linguistic Diversity: Meeting Students Where They Are
Charles B. Hutchison, PhD, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Jonimay Morgan, MA, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Michelle Pass, MS, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

7) Advancing the Social Standing of Students from Educationally At-Risk Populations: Students Who Learn, Look, Speak, Behave, or Believe Differently
Ellen L. Duchaine, PhD, Texas State University

8) Understanding and Addressing Bias in Classroom Assessment: Promoting Fairness Through Equitable Grading Practices
Nicholas D. Young, PhD, EdD, American International College
Dianne M. Young, MAT, University of Massachusetts

9) Teaching to the Common Core State Standards While Emphasizing Social Justice: Classroom Strategies That Work
Kristi L. Santi, PhD, University of Houston
Jacqueline Hawkins, EdD, University of Houston
Sara J. Jones, PhD, University of University of Houston

10) College Preparation and Professional Development: What Every Preservice and Veteran Teacher Should Know about Social Justice Education
Nicholas D. Young, PhD, EdD, American International College
Jennifer Innocenti, MA, American International College

List of Acronyms

About the Primary Authors

Dr. Nicholas D. Young, PhD, EdD has worked in diverse educational roles for more than 30 years, serving as a principal, special education director, graduate professor, graduate program director, graduate dean, and longtime superintendent of schools. He was named the Massachusetts Superintendent of the Year, and he completed a distinguished Fulbright program focused on the Japanese educational system through the collegiate level. Dr. Young is the recipient of numerous other honors and recognitions including the General Douglas MacArthur Award for distinguished civilian and military leadership and the Vice Admiral John T. Hayward Award for exemplary scholarship. Dr. Young has written extensively in the fields of education, counseling, and psychology.

Dr. Elizabeth Jean, EdD has served as an elementary school educator and administrator in various rural and urban settings in Massachusetts for more than 20 years. As a building administrator, she has fostered partnerships with staff, families, various local businesses, and higher education institutions. Dr. Jean is currently a graduate adjunct professor at the Van Loan School of Education, Endicott College. She has written widely on topics in education from preschool to PhD.

Dr. Teresa A. Citro, PhD is the Chief Executive Officer of Learning Disabilities Worldwide, Inc. and the Founder and President of Thread of Hope, Inc. She is a graduate of Tufts New England Medical School and Northeastern University, Boston.  Dr. Citro has co-edited several books on a wide range of topics in special education, and she co-authored a popular children’s series I Am Full of Possibilities.  She is the co-editor of two peer-reviewed journals: Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal and Insights on Learning Disabilities: From Prevailing Theories to Validated Practices.

Social justice, education, diversity, equity education, bias, prejudice, white privilege, curriculum, extracurricular

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Acceptance, Understanding, and the Moral Imperative of Promoting Social Justice Education in the Schoolhouse





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Publication date

September 2019