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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Rossiter, David A.

Second Advisor

Medler, Michael J.

Third Advisor

Stangl, Paul


During the last decade, after thirty years of disinvestment in public education, the United States has rigorously implemented high stakes testing, the results of which have provided public school officials, politicians, and real estate developers with an identifiable pool of "failing" schools. This thesis focuses on the school choice debate as it plays out in Chicago's news media by exploring the city of Chicago's early implementation of school choice policy and by considering school choice policy as part of the larger neoliberal spatial project. The hegemonic naturalization of school spaces as "failures" or "successes" in Chicago has been perpetuated by an elite few who have access to the space-creating process of journalism (news reporting and opinion articles). These labels that schools take on have been a large part of the rationalization for Renaissance 2010, Chicago's most powerful piece of school choice policy. Renaissance 2010 (2004-2010) was an initiative that gave city officials the power to close 60-70 traditional public schools and replace them with 100 school choice schools, two-thirds of which are privately-run charter and contract schools. The research conducted in this thesis contributes to understanding how the dominant discourse surrounding the school choice policy debate manifests itself spatially, both in physical and theoretical space. This paper presents the school choice policy debate as it is deliberated in the news media by mapping, in physical and discursive space, the emergence of these discourses from news media as they shape the spatial identity of Chicagoans. The resulting maps and analysis show that the discourse of the spatial project of school choice policies in Chicago pathologizes the education spaces (schools and neighborhoods) that serve lower-income African American Chicagoans.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Privatization in education--Illinois--Chicago; Mass media--Illinois--Chicago--Influence; School choice--Government policy--Illinois--Chicago; Segregation in education--Illinois--Chicago; Education and state--Illinois--Chicago; Public schools--Illinois--Chicago

Geographic Coverage

Chicago (Ill.)




masters theses




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