chapter  10
21 Pages

A State Takeover: The Language of a School District Crisis

As two literacy educators and researchers concerned with issues of educational equity and democracy, we watched as event after event unfolded in the developing crisis of SLPS. Our story here represents a form of problem-based praxis where we were both inside and outside the problem. As insiders to education, we had a stance; we were against the takeover of SLPS, and attended public hearings, wrote letters to the editor, and spoke out against takeover plans. As outsiders to the city of St. Louis, some of the politics and history were not as transparent as they might have been. As educators and citizens who believe education is vital to a healthy democracy, we embarked on this work as a form of praxis-theory, practice, reflection, and action (Croteau, Hoynes, & Ryan, 2005). Using the tools of critical discourse analysis (e.g. Fairclough, 1992; Scollon, 2008) and critical policy analysis (Lipman, 2004, 2007; Woodside-Jiron, 2004), we asked, “How was this crisis constructed through public discourse and literacy practices?” We explored the interplay of interests, social roles, and traditions that contributed to the construction of a crisis as we examined the use of language and literacy circulating around a crisis in the SLPS.