Borders and Dreams by Chris Carger
In the book Borders and Dreams, Chris Carger shows the readers the hardships of Alejandro, a Spanish-American boy with very little educational background. In her case study of both Alejandro and his family she shows how the limitations of Alejandro, his parents, and an overpopulated school system can make succeeding in an American school nearly impossible. In this paper I will look at all the obstacles that Alejandro faced both before and during his education. Also, I will identify both the things that I felt were done right in his schooling and the things I felt were done wrong. To finish I will give some of the idea's I have that could possibly have helped Alejandro.
1. Describe at least three ways that educators characterize their students' abilities and needs? The first way teachers characterize their students abilities is by labeling them. Throughout Carger's book we see this, both in Alejandro and in Alejandro's sister Alicia who was called "At risk," limited English proficient," "learning disabled," and Linguistically delayed"(p. 54) Labeling is something we in American have to do, it's just our nature. However, labeling can be dangerous because it can be a stigma that they have to live with for the rest of their lives, also I think it gives the child an excuse to fail. They can just say well, I'm dropping out because I'm learning disabled.
A second way is by ethnicity or social standing, granted this is a sometimes racist way to characterize children. We do see this in Borders and Dreams, with Alejandro who was put into a Latino private school instead of a regular public highschool. This was possible because Chicago is a big culturally diverse city, with 20000 Latinos in the Chicago elementary school system(27) In schools I have gone to social standing is very important, children of important members of society always had it easier than children who were poor, or whose parents were not in the PTA. In small cities where everybody knows everybody this is a very common occurrence, even though it is very wrong.
A third and the most obvious way that educators characterize the needs and abilities of their students is with grades. Whether your in first grade and get U's or S's, or your in highschool and get A's, B's, C's, D's, or F's teachers are always judging students ability levels. Another tool used for this is standardized testing. The two are then combined to decide whether a student is smart, average, or in need of outside help. Grades though they were certainly harsh to Alejandro, are a necessity of teaching.
2. Using deficit-model language, describe Alejandro's situation. What educational implications or actions does your description suggest?
Alejandro had several strikes against him when it came to his education, first and foremost was cultural. Alejandro, though he went to kindergarten in Chicago had most of his early schooling in Mexico(1st-3rd...