Public education in most contemporary ethnically and racially plural societies stratifies opportunities to learn by students’ social class and ethnic origins. The organisation of public education in racially and/or ethnically plural societies contributes to both the transformation and reproduction of the social order. During the last century, because access to public education has been expanded broadly to previously excluded sectors of society, two competing trends have emerged: greater access to public education supporting the transformation of individuals and society, and the resilience of race, gender, and social class hierarchies as new forms of social and educational privilege emerge to replace older ones.

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