As open educational resources (OER), practices (OEP), and related activities proliferate across the globe, so do associated policies. However, at the policy level open education is a particularly vulnerable to misinterpretation, cooptation, and dilution of the key principles of the movement around access and emancipation. This is due in large part to the ambiguous definitions, conceptions, and politics of “open” in educational applications. Additionally, the focus in North America upon open education is the development and provision of OER–specifically open textbooks–is reflected in policies that fail to engage with wider applications of open education. The study presented here is focused on analyzing the discourses of open education in existing policy to determine how open education is being conceived, discussed, and interpreted in policy circles. The policies analyzed are drawn from community colleges, universities, and state-level legislation dating from 2007-2016 in Virginia, USA. Through the specific analysis method of critical discourse analysis (CDA), the study reveals conservative and hegemonic ideologies that underlie open education policy, constraining the emancipatory and transformational potentials of open education.