Literacy, politics and power in California classrooms: Media, journalist, and educator ideologies
AuthorCain, Christine Lee
AdvisorMcCarty, Teresa L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study is a form of professional explanation about language and the political dimensions of education reform, examined through sociocognitive orientations to individual and collective identity. Common signifiers among modes and content of literacy explanations were distilled from media and statist texts, especially the Los Angeles Times' Reading by 9 and Reading series, and 12 educator and six journalist semi-structured interviews. Classrooms and newsrooms were seen as political spaces in terms of identities and beliefs "underpin[ning] fundamental social institutions" through "cultural conceptions about language attitudes, standards, [and] hegemony." Participant literacy explanations developed three linchpins, or "feature clusters," recursively signifying orientations to particular sets of social relations. All six journalists concurred with the Los Angeles Times' proposition that reading by age nine in English leads to "success." Seven educators expressed "counter hegemony" comprising the status possibilities arising from student access to critical (powerful) literacy. Increasingly complex relationships among cognition and speech were entailed in the second and third linchpins. Six journalists and nine of twelve educators constructed a naturalized social/educational order where the privileged retain and pass on their status through "the freedom" to speak only English, the freedom to associate with those having similar test scores, and the freedom of the press to promote a semi-religious literacy crusade. Language and culture minority participants' (three educators and one journalist) discourse implicated subaltern language-sensitive social/educational identity constructions as the third linchpin. From powerful cognitive mechanisms as feature clustering, language itself was turned into a battlefield. Tolerance for a demonized Other was paradoxically advocated while advancing educational policies and processes that marginalized educator and parent attempts to question. Los Angeles Times' reading reform texts conflating social pathologies with literacy in crisis masked reproduction of stratified literacy in which only the "winners" in the economy have the right to critique. To transform increasingly narrow constructions of educators' and others' intellectual and material freedom, recommendations focus on continuing and expanding a principled, critical approach for (1) disengaging literacy from stratified status and paternalistic nationhood; (2) re-engaging literacy with autonomous personhood and agency.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading and Culture