Analyzing the Visual Discourse of Charter Schools in the News


  • Abe Feuerstein Bucknell University



Educational Reform, Discourse Analysis, Semiotics, Visual Rhetoric, Charter Schools, Political Cartoons, Educational Policy, Neoliberalism


This study examines a number of political cartoons focused on various aspects of charter school reform.  These images illustrate the ways in which political cartoons are able to tap into dominant cultural beliefs in order to call attention to particular issues often from a critical perspective.  The paper unpacks the meaning embedded in these cartoons through the use of tools borrowed from both the study of semiotics and the field of visual rhetoric.  With regard to semiotics, the study focuses on identifying the signs and symbols embedded within the images.  With respect to visual rhetoric, the study focuses on the way the images condense and combine ideas, present opposing position, and seek to normalize or challenge particular perspectives. More generally, the study uses political cartoons as a means to identify currents of opposition and possibilities for contestation in relation to the dominant direction of educational reform. In the case of charter school reform, political cartoons open up a discursive space for consideration and critique of current policies and their consequences. These cartoons provide access to a discourse that questions the benefits of charter school reform and stands in opposition to the dominant neoliberal discourses now shaping educational policy.

Author Biography

Abe Feuerstein, Bucknell University

Abe Feuerstein is associate professor of education at Bucknell University.  He publishes in the area of educational politics, school governance, and school reform.