Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Social Work

Degree Program

Social Work, PhD

Committee Chair

Sterrett-Hong, Emma

Committee Member

Harris, Lesley M.

Committee Member


Committee Member

Clement, Davis

Author's Keywords

Education; policy; media; school boards; school social work; critical discourse analysis


Since 2020, recensions on youth rights and education censorship have been backed by a network of actors and organizations on the political Right, evidenced by race and diversity curricula bans, book bans, and inflammatory media discourse. The scope and prevalence of education censorship are understudied with little known about the policies enacted, and influences of media discourse, school boards, and the effects on schools and the school social worker. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore and understand the scope and prevalence of education censorship, including policies, media discourse, school boards, and schools. To achieve the aims of this dissertation, four studies were pursued. Each study is guided by a unique methodology, however, Fairclough’s (2013) exploratory critique is the overarching method to unify all four studies. Study 1 entailed a legislative analysis of enacted policies in 2021-22 related to race/diversity curricula bans and juxtaposed with media discourse (n = 24) on the political right written by Christopher Rufo – the prominent political activist on the Right. Study 2 included a national analysis of news articles (n = 170) published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Tampa Bay Times. Study 3 analyzed public comments across (n = 6) school board sessions in the Traverse City School District in Michigan and was integrated with anti-CRT articles (n = 11) written by network elites and think-tanks on the political Right. Study 4 concluded the macro-to-micro level focus of this dissertation by analyzing the impact on schools and support-based mechanisms, including the school social worker. This study was operationalized by (n = 1) focus group and (n = 11) interviews with active SSWs across the US.