Protecting Teachers or Protecting Children? Media Representations of Vergara v. California

Jeanne M. Powers, Kathryn P. Chapman


Over the past five years, the laws governing teachers’ employment have been at the center of legal and political conflicts in state courts and elections across the United States.  Vergara v. California challenged five California state statutes that provide employment protections for teachers.  Drawing on the theory of political spectacle, we conducted a media content analysis of 42 print news media articles published prior to the court’s decision in June 2014.  Two aspects of political spectacle, the use of metaphor and the illusion of rationality were the most salient and deployed in ways that were more closely aligned with the student plaintiffs’ claims than the statutes’ defenders.  We conclude by highlighting how the framing of these and other similar stories may shape subsequent debates about public education in the United States.

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RISE - International Journal of Sociology of Education | ISSN: 2014-3575

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