The introduction provides an overview of the book’s argument for a right to education and how that right can be realized through democratic activism. The introduction first notes how rights discourse is increasingly used in education reform today despite challenges it faces. Two challenges are highlighted: from a practical perspective, educational rights have an uncertain place in the US legal system; and from a theoretical perspective, rights claims are in tension with the principle of majority rule. The introduction then explains the two questions the book addresses: What is the place of a right to education in a participatory democracy? And how can this right be realized? The rationale for using deliberative democracy as a framework for analysis is explained, and a brief overview of the chapters is offered. The introduction highlights the reciprocal relationship between the book’s theoretical arguments and case studies; the case studies of democratic activism showcase theory in action to some degree, but they also determine the practical value of theoretical arguments about educational justice. The analysis therefore considers how activism may bring democratic theory to fruition, and how theory may need to be revised given constraints advocates face as they press for education rights.
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