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Language and power dynamics: A critical policy analysis of racial and choice discourses in school integration policies

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Published: 2022-02-08

Authors

Sarah Diem

University of Missouri

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0798-5220

Madeline Good

University of Missouri

Brittany Smotherson

University of Missouri

Sarah W. Walters

University of Missouri

Vida Nana Ama Bonney

University of Missouri

Keywords: critical discourse analysis; critical policy analysis; educational policy; interest divergence; race; school choice; school integration

Abstract

Although school segregation has been illegal for nearly seven decades, it persists in a public education context increasingly impacted by market-based ideologies. Indeed, many present-day school integration policies are having to negotiate school choice while simultaneously trying to serve the public good. Through a critical policy analysis (CPA) of three policies in school districts with distinct histories of integration efforts, we examine these tensions by exploring how racial discourses are factors in contemporary school integration policies and how discourses of choice uphold or disrupt existing racial inequities. In our CPA, we pair Critical Discourse Analysis and interest divergence to better understand power behind and within discourse, and how discourses of race and school choice illustrate new but perhaps reminiscent shifts toward interest divergence. In doing so, we show how policies themselves cannot be disentangled from the rhetoric, power, accountability, and politics surrounding their development and implementation.

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Author Biographies

Sarah Diem

University of Missouri

Sarah Diem is a professor of educational policy and leadership in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri. Her research focuses on the sociopolitical and geographic contexts of education, paying particular attention to how politics, leadership, and implementation of educational policies affect outcomes related to equity, opportunity, and racial diversity within public schools.

Madeline Good

University of Missouri

Madeline Good is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri. Her primary research focuses on how policies interact with the sociological, political, and technological contexts of education, especially regarding issues of equity and teacher expertise.

Brittany Smotherson

University of Missouri

Brittany Smotherson is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri, with an emphasis in higher education administration and certificates in qualitative research and education policy. Her research interests include higher education internationalization, Black women, and critical theories and methodologies. 

Sarah W. Walters

University of Missouri

Sarah W. Walters is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri. Her experience as a former public-school teacher has informed her research interests in policies and practices that address racial inequities in PK12 schools. 

Vida Nana Ama Bonney

University of Missouri

Vida Nana Ama Bonney is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Missouri. Her research interests are centered on the lived experiences of migrants, parenting, and child development in multicultural and multilingual families, and the effects of cultural and contextual factors on early childhood development.

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Published: 2022-02-08

How to Cite

Diem, S. ., Good, M., Smotherson, B., Walters, S. W., & Bonney, V. N. A. (2022). Language and power dynamics: A critical policy analysis of racial and choice discourses in school integration policies. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (12). https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.30.6995