Alinsky Essay

This essay has a total of 1373 words and 6 pages.

Alinsky

"At Promise": Children and Families
When an individual hears the words, ‘at risk', they immediately think of all the
negative characteristics of terminology: teen pregnancy, troubled teens, gang bangers,
drop outs, substance abusers, and so on. I know I sure did. In reading Beth Blue
Swadener's article, "Children and Families "at Promise": Deconstructing the Discourse of
Risk", I've learned that there are so much more to labeling at student ‘at risk'. There
is actually a history behind the meaning and how ‘at risk' became such a dangerous
label. In rethinking the meaning of ‘at risk' and changing it to ‘at promise', places
an entirely new meaning and may give hope to those who are lost and forgotten.

There is much of Swadener's article that I agreed, disagreed, and in some instances, just
appalled with. The beginning of her article, Swadener makes the following statement that
struck out at me, "…there is an emerging ideology of risk, which has embedded in it
interpretations of children's deficiencies or likelihood of failure due to environmental,
as well as individual, variables". This statement hit me hard because I never thought of
‘at risk' students as having "deficiencies" or being destined to fail due to variables
beyond their control. I may be naive in my thinking of what ‘at risk' truly meant but I
would have never labeled students as having "deficiencies".

Swadener continues with some of the child advocacy organizations that work to dismantle
the harsh beliefs about children and families living in poverty stricken areas. They
create and/or improve governmental policies as well as programs to aid address specific
needs of ‘at risk' students and families. In reading what they do, I was happy to see
that the organizations are working to solve the problems rather than pointing the finger
at how the students' lives became to be such a way. Also, I knew that there are programs
out to help ‘at risk' students, but it never occurred to me that families are labeled
‘at risk' as well. Swadener listed some of the ‘at risk' programs which I was
surprised to see that I am enrolled for most: Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Head
Start which is a program that helps pregnant women obtain prenatal insurance before
enrolling for governmental insurance such as Title 19, Badger Care, and/or Managed Health.
Seeing these programs listed in Swadener's article gave me twisted emotions. I didn't know
whether to pity myself for being ‘at risk' this whole time and never realized it or be
thankful that somebody pushing hard enough to get help for people like me who is barely
making it.

Continuing on, Swadener makes a statement that I completely agreed with. She states,
"…all children are at risk to some degree and therefore will require prevention or
intervention services at one point or another". This is a new perspective of looking at it
and I strongly believe that it is true. I say this because children are ‘at risk' of
being illiterate, for example, when they are young until they undergo some form of
intervention from parents, teachers, and/or friends who are willing to work with them.
Same goes for prevention of teen pregnancy, students have to be educated as early as the
age of twelve-as scary the thought is-but it is true, including many other preventive life
scenarios.

Other statement I agreed with is, "One cannot suppose that all of those from a certain
background run the risk of failure; often the failures do not occur". I enjoyed this
statement because it shows that not every student/family is promised to fail because of
their present or past living conditions or of the life choices they have made for their
selves or for their families.

Swadener gives the reader a historical view point of ‘at risk', from the medical aspect,
social policy and how to deconstruct the effect of the label. In the reading, Swadener
gave an example of "premature screening" of children who may have a learning disability
later in life. The study involved children at the age of six weeks old which were labeled
‘at risk' if the infant did not perform specific developmental tasks. Needless to say,
this study upset me greatly. My first thoughts were, ‘from who standards are these
people going by! And not all babies develop the same way!' Oh, I was flaming and hope that
these improvident tests are not undergoing today. Same goes for the first grade assessment
that Swadener continued to use as further evidence.

One of the statements that Swadener made I agree with greatly is, "many medical model
intervention programs for children have begun to concentrate more on the prescription than
the diagnosis and even refer to children by their treatment regiment". I have seen this
many times while attending grade school and further into my education. I had teachers
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