Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Chair

Iliyan Iliev

Committee Chair School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 2

Joseph Weinberg

Committee Member 2 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 3

Joshua Hill

Committee Member 3 School

Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security


The process of school reopenings during the COVID-19 pandemic has garnered a significant amount of attention from various stakeholders including parents, school administrators, teachers, teachers’ unions, and the media. Negotiations over elements of school reopening policies, such as mask mandates and remote-learning options have, in certain school districts, been fraught with contention. The politicization of school reopening policies has been the source of a growing body of research, which tends to analyze policy decisions in conjunction with COVID data. However, a large gap in the literature has appeared concerning the politicization of school reopenings and the impact of the media, especially lacking a focus on the portrayal of teachers and teachers’ unions by the media in the intense reopening policy negotiation process. Using a method of nonparametric automated content analysis, this thesis analyzes the media's portrayal of school reopening policy negotiations in the Chicago Public School District, Los Angeles Unified School District, and New York City Public School District, which are the three largest school districts in the U.S. The results indicate a broadly negative framing of teachers unions by the media, especially in school district with stronger teacher unions such as Chicago Public School District. The 2019 strikes by the United Teachers of Los Angeles and the Chicago Teachers Union were stark examples of the negative rhetoric in the media concerning teachers and teachers unions in the media. However, there were instances of heightened positive responses in the media to school reopenings during the COVID-19 pandemic.