Using ethnographic data collected in a second grade classroom over the course of a school year, this paper describes the ways in which one school's discourse of liberalism is deleteriously deployed. We view the school's discipline creed as emblematic of the school's liberal curriculum, and interrogate the effects on four African American boys in the classroom when the school enacts this creed. Despite the agency that these boys obviously had, they were unable to control the ways in which they were placed at a structural disadvantage and manipulated by a system far more powerful than they were. The results were that these four boys suffered. Not only did the intended liberal curriculum fail to be translated fully into the enacted curriculum, the liberal underpinnings of this curriculum precluded teachers and students from taking any critical stance.