A Payne-ful Discussion

By Liana Loewus — January 04, 2012 1 min read
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On his blog Borderland, teacher Doug Noon laments the reading assignment he was given over the winter break—Ruby Payne’s Framework for Understanding Poverty. He writes:

This is to prepare us for the indoctrination session [part of his school's improvement plan] to follow upon our return from our break. I'm going to read the book since I opened my mouth at a staff meeting and said that many people disagree with Ruby Payne, and "Would we have a chance to air dissenting points of view?"

Referencing a number of other poverty experts, Noon takes particular issue with Payne’s reported thesis that the poor need to be taught the “hidden rules” of the middle class to escape poverty, (putting him firmly on the same side as this anti-Payne 14-year-old video blogger). Noon suggests that, in his view, this is is a superficial way of addressing academic achievement gaps.

Even if Payne’s ideas won’t help, is it possible that a frank discussion of the problems she proposes to solve might? Would that kind of conversation be possible—or productive—at your school? Have you read Payne?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.