Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




This thesis builds on existing student voice literature to explore how racism is embedded within public school governance systems and how high school students engaging in policy discussions at the district level conceptualize their participation and resist white supremacist structures. Using a Cultural Political Economy (CPE) framework, this proposed study uses semi-structured interviews with high school students and content analysis of selected board meetings to analyze student voice in the policy-making processes of one urban public school district, Metropolis Public Schools (MPS). This study critically examines the ways that MPS gathers student perspectives and how students experience racialized governance mechanisms and discourse. Simultaneously, it attempts to understand how students of color resist and challenge white supremacy embedded in their school systems and how these efforts can broaden existing ideas of what student participation and voice mean. Ultimately, this thesis argues that district-facilitated policy-making spaces discursively and materially limited student participation in district decision-making, but that young people continued their political engagement in other student-led spaces focused on the political education of their peers. Aligned with a CPE approach, this study takes discourse seriously as holding transformative potential and demonstrates how language and silence were mobilized in MPS to legitimize existing institutional logics but also to challenge these logics in powerful ways.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Thursday, October 14, 2027