This article examines the potential of a critical approach to language as a new dimension of transforming school cultures and making them more coherent with purported equity and social justice goals. The literature review shows that the latest waves of school reform in the USA have done little to change patterns of student achievement based on ‘race’ and class because they have only tinkered with changing the cultures of schools. We suggest that one reason that school reforms have failed to achieve educational equity for all groups is that a critical approach to language has been absent from this process. This absence is due, among other reasons, to the fact that teachers and school leaders have not been formally educated on the subject of language and discourse as a medium for change. Our analysis of the literature leads us to suggest that a critical approach to language could offer a way for schools (or any human organization) to concretely analyse implicit beliefs and values and, thus, unpack institutionalized epistemologies of race, social class, and gender that might, in the last analysis, be hindering efforts to transform schools into equitable institutions.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/rosemary_henze/1/