Equality of opportunity has been the most important organising principle in education policies in postwar Australia. Equality of opportunity was central to the expansion of publicly-funded education: the promise of upward social mobility through education had broad appeal. Equality of opportunity objectives are now being displaced by the newer and more limited concept of market equity. Equality of opportunity usually implies equality of the educational resources provided to each child, and sometimes goes further to mean positive discrimination in favour of the disadvantaged. However, equity is usually understood only as the right to participate in education. Whereas economic objections used to work in tandem with equality of opportunity policies, the two are now often in contradiction. Further, the failure of the older equality policies to deliver on their promises has partly eroded people's support for the equality of opportunity perspective, especially middle-class support. There is a growing emphasis on relative individual advantage through education. This new policy environment threatens to result in significantly greater inequality of opportunity.
The Eclipse of Equality of Opportunity?.
Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 16(1).