Negotiating Race To The Top: An Intervention Teacher's Story

Open Access
Cone Hernbloom, Lisa Ann
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 20, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Kathleen Mary Collins, Dissertation Advisor
  • Patrick Willard Shannon, Committee Member
  • Jacqueline Edmondson, Committee Member
  • Dorothy H Evensen, Special Member
  • positioning
  • Race to the Top
  • intervention
  • autoethnography
  • critical policy analysis
  • agency
When President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February of 2009, he authorized the use of $4.35 billion to fund Race to the Top, an education initiative encouraging states to compete for grant money to use towards education reform. When Colorado failed to win in Rounds 1 or 2, the state department of education submitted yet another application and finally received a token $17 million for its persistent efforts. The implications for teachers were significant, particularly in the case of "Intervention" teachers such as myself. For this reason I have developed an autoethnography of my three and a half years in this Colorado school where I experienced and made sense of the discourse of these reforms. Capitalizing on the power of narrative tradition to reveal the beliefs underlying particular discourses, my teacher narrative serves as a window into the world of policy as it intersects with the lives of real teachers and students. In this study, I have drawn on positioning theory as a framework for understanding the ways in which Race to the Top reforms position my school, teachers, and students, as well as the ways in which educators and students may attempt to resist, or re-position themselves. In order to make sense of these positioning forces, I kept an electronic, reflective journal of my experiences and gathered documents and artifacts that pertained to Race to the Top. I also obtained permission to gather student reflections during a Career Research Unit. As I accumulated these resources, I conducted narrative analysis of my teacher story, as well as critical policy analysis of Race to the Top reforms and thematic analysis of policymaker and student discourse. I used my teacher autoethnography to weave the multi-layered narrative together and unpack its implications. It is my hope that other educators will hear my story and be encouraged to engage in similar critical inquiry as a platform for agency, and that policymakers will recognize the value of our teacher stories as they develop and enact policy.