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This proposed article explores the dramatic shift in the image of social studies teachers, as represented in popular films of the 1970s and 1980s. It is based on a survey of 40 movies created during this period that feature significant interactions between social studies teachers and their students. This study employed a textual analysis method involving viewing the films alongside original script material, which reveals that the narratives involving public high schools during the 1970s and 1980s are distinct from those involving other types of schools or eras. Rather than the romantic figures of earlier portraits, such as Eve Arden’s beloved Our Miss Brooks in the 1940s and 1950s radio and television serial, these teachers are consistently portrayed as negative archetypes, thus providing a rationale for the school reform agenda of the 1980s. The sheer repetition of these damaging images in Hollywood products of the period made the American public more susceptible to the deceptive arguments outlined in A Nation at Risk, the seminal 1983 report that provided the blueprint for the standards reform movement that has dominated for the past generation. This article thus develops upon the critical perspectives of educational historians and social studies educators who have probed this turning point in American schooling.