Dreams Deferred

Dropping Out and Struggling Forward

Chris Liska Carger, Northern Illinois University

A volume in the series: Research for Social Justice: Personal~Passionate~Participatory Inquiry. Editor(s): Ming Fang He, Georgia Southern University. JoAnn Phillion, Purdue University.

Published 2009

(Sponsorship: AERA Division B, Division K, and Bilingual Education SIG)

In Dreams Deferred, a follow-up to Of Borders and Dreams (1996), Chris Carger takes us further into the life of Alejandro Juarez, Jr., and his family. This work envelopes readers in “la vida real,” real life. Carger followed Alejandro for thirteen years, as he moved from school to school, experienced difficult relationships with his peers, dropped out of high school, struggled with employment and an early marriage. The compelling story of Alejandro’s parents obtaining U. S. citizenship parallels the border crossing story of Carger’s first book and illuminates triumphs and tragedies the family, and many other immigrants, experience as they negotiate life in the United States, and as they, all too often, have to forsake their hopes and dreams. There are no easy answers, nor happy endings, to the story of Alejandro and his family.

Unlike many studies on dropping out, Alejandro, his family, and his community are viewed from a positive perspective versus deficit, “at risk,” models in dropout research. The book fits into a newly evolving, increasingly important, research paradigm that focuses on students’ experience in the context of families, communities, and schools, and deals with issues of language, culture, and power related to multiculturalism and social justice. This book informs pre-service and in-service teachers, educational researchers, administrators, educational policy makers, and those who advocate for people are marginalized because of cultural, linguistic issues and learning challenges. It is a timely reflection on a problem that is at the intersection of this nation’s immigration controversies and dropout crisis.

""In Dreams Deferred, Carger presents an innovative way of approaching academic research. This ethnographic piece is rooted in the quest for equity and unveils the human struggle to adapting to the capitalistic, monolithic warfare aimed at minorities in the United States of America. She avoids the scholarly approach of merely collecting and reporting data but actively participates in her participants’ lives. While this sort of approach is risky, her usage of 'personal-passionate-participatory inquiry' provides the ability to conjoin with individuals invested in obtaining social justice and aims to 'build a community to develop strategies for the enactment of educational and social change that fosters equity, equality, social justice, freedom, and human possibility' (p. xv). ...

This work is significant because there is a need for scholarly activism in the academy and, moreover, a need for scholars to use their work as a framework for understanding the sociological underpinnings that affect our youth. It is also essential for teachers, parents, community members, scholars, and educationally-based organizations; I highly recommend this book." Brandon Lew Georgia State University in International Journal of Multicultural Education