Date of Award

Summer July 2011

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Marta Baltodano

Second Advisor

Edmundo F. Litton

Third Advisor

Mary K. McCullough


Since the publication of A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), Berliner and Biddle (1995) have argued media have assisted leaders in creating a “manufactured crisis” (p. 4) about America’s public schools to scapegoat educators, push reforms, and minimize societal problems, such as systemic racism and declining economic growth, particularly in urban areas. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act (2001) functions as an important articulation of this crisis (Granger, 2008).

Utilizing the theoretical lenses of master narrative theory (Lyotard, 1984), Critical Race Theory (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001), and social capital theory (Bourdieu, 1986; Coleman 1988), this study employed critical discourse analysis (Reisigl & Wodak, 2009) to unmask the mainstream media’s master narrative, or dominant story, about Victory High School (VHS), which was reconstituted under the authority of the NCLB Act (2001). Findings revealed a master narrative that racialized economic competition, vilified community members, and exonerated neoliberal reforms.

Drawing on the critical race methodology of counter-narratives (Yosso, 2006), individual and focus group interviews with 12 VHS teachers, alumni, and community elders illustrated how reforms fragmented this school community, destroying collective social capital, while protecting the interests of capitalism and neoliberalism.

By revealing the interests protected by the media’s master narrative and beginning a counter-narrative voiced by members of the community, this study contributes to recasting the history of the VHS community, to understanding the intersections between race and class in working class communities of color, and to exposing the impact of neoliberal educational reforms on urban schools.