Placement, Assessment, and Tracking
"The essays many of the children were producing, flawed as they were, were not jibing with the various assessments of their ability that I had heard and read" (109).
There are many different ways of judging competency and literacy; assessment is subjective. One teacher says the student has a brain defect; another teacher says the student has psychological problem; another teacher says...The finger pointing and blame is infinite. So, what do teachers do? They give up. They categorize the student and blame the student's weaknesses as his or her problem and the reason for failure.
"Kids do come to school with all sorts of linguistic differences, and some kids, like Harold, arrive on our doorstep with big problems" (127).
The students' successes and failures, unfortunately, are only subjective snapshots of the whole individual. Due to time constraints or political constraints, it is a snapshot that is improperly extrapolated into the film of their whole lives.
"What was interesting to me and the tutors about Suzette's fragments was that they originated from a desire to reach beyond what she considered simple, beyond the high school way. She had an idea about how college writing should sound, and she was trying to approximate her assumptions" (171).
Often, students will play a role and perform to the desires of the instructor / teacher to their own detriment. Suzette made mistakes, albeit intelligent, were mistakes nonetheless.
"Those who study the way literature becomes canonized, how linguistic creations are included and excluded from a tradition, claim that the canonical curriculum students would most likely receive would not, as is claimed, offer a common core of American experience" (235).
The canon is an artificial construct that bifurcates the intellectual and political haves from the have-nots.