This book traces the development of four literacy discourses over twenty-five years: human capital, cultural, critical, and feminist literacy. By analyzing four federal educational policies and their specific references to literacy, language instruction, and key signifiers of the kinds of literacy prescribed for teachers and students, Mary Frances Agnello describes how the discourses of human capital and cultural literacy have been and remain predominant over the lesser well-known discourses of critical and feminist literacy. Tracing the proliferations and transformations in the meanings of literacy, Agnello looks to trends generated by the last wave of educational reform. She employs a vehicle of literacy policy analysis to locate where power is exercised to both define and develop literacy in the citizenry at large. As teachers and students question their positions with respect to these policies, they can become more self-directed promoters of democratic classroom literacy practices.