Centering Justice

The Future of Education 


We live in a moment when angry voices are easy to hear. The world seems to change ever more rapidly around us, creating uncertainty and even fear about who we are, where we’re going and whether we’ll be left behind.  mia-0531-469w.jpg

The technological, demographic and social upheavals of our time are real, and our educational system feels those shocks acutely.

The ultimate question facing us—whether you’re a parent, educator, policymaker, businessperson or a concerned community member—is this: will our children have a hope-filled future? Are we creating opportunities for all children to fully explore and develop their individual identity and potential so that they can become optimistic, creative and valued members of society?

Being able to answer “yes” is fundamentally what working toward educational justice is about.

In an education system that is truly just, every student will engage in learning that is authentic, rigorous and fun. All children will be included and valued for their contributions. Every young person will be equipped for a lifetime of economic opportunity and personal well-being.

We still have much work to do to make this a reality. Students of color and those impacted by poverty continue to lack access to educational opportunities that center the well-being of themselves and their communities. Too many students don’t get a chance to participate in the kind of meaningful learning necessary to realize their potential.

In this year’s edition of Research That Matters, we explore the promise and possibilities of advancing educational justice, from early childhood through higher education. We investigate the changes in how our students learn, how we teach and how we prepare educators to drive this work forward.

Despite the ongoing injustices around us, it’s important to remember we live in a time of exciting possibility. We have witnessed tremendous improvements in human well-being and life-changing technological advances. Every day, there are many moments of joy and beauty in our young people’s educational endeavors. We know more about what great teaching and learning looks like than ever before.

This progress hasn’t been universal—that’s why we all must step forward to be part of the solution. Our entire society gains when all of our young people have a fair opportunity to realize their potential. While the pressing challenges of our time can feel insurmountable, a vibrant democratic society that draws on the strength of diverse voices and knowledge is our best path to a more hopeful future.

Mia Tuan

Dean, University of Washington College of Education