Inscribing class: Writing instruction in a working-class suburban high school
Gorlewski, Julie A.
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Critical ethnography was used to investigate how teachers and students in a predominantly white working-class first-ring suburban high school experience and articulate academic practices related to writing and to determine what structural, curricular, and identity-related factors influence these practices. The ways in which academic writing practices relate to social class(es) and discourses of empowerment and/or disempowerment among students and faculty was also explored. Working-class students in the first decade of the new millenium face particular challenges: the sweeping changes of new capitalism, increasing disparities in income coupled with waning political commitment to social services, and escalated accountability pressures in public schools. Narrations of teachers and students indicate that the state reform initiative, which is characterized by high-stakes standardized tests, has resulted in narrowed curriculum, deprofessionalization of teachers, and experiences of writing that are commodified, alienating and exploitative of student labor, features consistent with the deleterious effects of capitalism on education.