Through The Wire: An examination of the portrayal of urban education

Open Access
Oplinger, Michael John
Area of Honors:
Media Studies
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Michelle Rodino Colocino, Thesis Supervisor
  • Susan Mary Strohm, Honors Advisor
  • education
  • The Wire
The issues surrounding public education in large American cities are nothing new. Urban public schools have long had graduation rates that were lower than suburban public schools in the same area. Politicians have always claimed to be the person who was going to reform public education with little actual results. In 2001, Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act with bipartisan support. This law was supposed to be defining education reform law that would change modern public education. However, it has been largely criticized for unreasonable goals since its enactment. Recently, on the heels of the release of the documentary “Waiting For Superman,” public attention has again turned to public education reform. This time the conversation focuses on promoting charter schools as a better alternative to public schools. This rhetoric blames students and teachers for not working hard enough without incentive for competition. Much of the media discourse revolves around that point. However, the fourth season of HBO’s The Wire presents a different argument. The Wire claims that the institutions that influence public education are to blame for the failure of urban public schools. This study is an examination of the narrative shown in current news media discourse and in the fourth season of The Wire.