Journal of Educational Controversy


Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Scholar and a 14-Year-Old Take on the Issue of Poverty

With our winter 2009 issue on "The Hidden Dimensions of Poverty: Rethinking Poverty and Education" now being read and discussed by our readers, we thought we might add two more sources that we recently found on the web. One is by a scholar, the other by a 14-year-old on YouTube. We invite your thoughts.

David Berliner's report, Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success

14-Year-Old Student, John Wittle, looks at his school's invitation to Ruby Payne on YouTube, Ruby Payne Does Not Understand Poverty

Check them both out.


educator said...

What I see in education is what the research also says, yet everyone ignores it. Low income people don't get SHOOL SYSTEM resources because they don't have the clout to demand it. High scoring low income students get tracked low so those valuable seats are available for high income students. The higher a school's poverty rate, the more new teachers, out-of-field teachers, and general lack of resources. It sure makes us feel better about providing different qualities of education based on income if we have an understanding of poverty that helps us put the blame outside the schools. And it is an additional benefit if we can also feel good that we are helping these poor folk who are destined to failure because of the poverty culture. No wonder it is so popular and we don't care that she made the whole thing up. It serves our purposes of having an excuse for lower achievement when we withhold the quality resources, and makes us feel good like we are compassionate toward these poor soles. I don't quite understand why the university folks are buying it, though.

Anonymous said...

I was not at all impressed by the 14-year-old boy and his edited monologue. If his intention was to make a point by sarcastically reading out of Payne's book for 7 minutes, then he succeeded. However, I didn't understand what point was being made exactly, other than he thought Payne was not a credible source of authority. Watching some of his other youtube videos confirmed my intuition that rather than being a voice of reason the nation should listen to on poverty, John is a 14-year-old (older by now) with his own opinions and a very limited world view.

On Payne herself, I found her book to be helpful in understanding the importance of empowering those in poverty to generate resources for themselves. I believe that research and discussion on major issues in fact require generalization, and generalizations are never without exceptions. I don't think Payne's work is meant to pigeon-hole anyone into a class, it is simply a resource to help understand each other.

I think one of Payne's most helpful clarifications is that poverty is not primarily a lack of financial resources. Many people think that if they just threw money and supplies at "the poor," they would just stop being poor because they have "stuff" now. I think what Ruby Payne advocates is a broader understanding of poverty than the limited materialistic view.

I don't believe it is the ultimate or final or all-inclusive work on understanding poverty, but it does challenge us to think about the issue.

Anonymous said...

I read the text by Ruby Payne for a class that I am currently taking. I am not a classroom teacher but work in the school setting as a counselor. There is merit to both sides. There were many moments while reading her text that I had "aha" moments. Some argue that what Payne has written is not credible due to her sources. We must remember that what Payne has written is merely a framework on poverty in which we should be familiar with. I think as with any reading, workshop or professional development, we must take it and try to apply things to our own students and the population in which we work with. Payne is simply shedding some light on the issue of poverty and the different experiences one has depending on environment; all of which we need to consider and remember when working with students. I believe the goal here is to be able to help all our kids be academically successful no matter what their story is.