Article: Reconsidering Bridges out of Poverty

The article “The Culture of Poverty Reloaded,” by Dr. Monique Redeaux, presents a new way of thinking about the work and writings of Education Consultant Ruby Payne. It challenges us to move beyond stereotypes and consider less biased portrayals of the problems and solutions needed in our education system and society at large.

“Payne, a self-proclaimed expert on the “mindset of poverty” (though herself a product of a privileged, white upbringing) asserts that it is becoming increasingly difficult to educate students in U.S. public schools because more and more of these students come from low-income backgrounds and follow the hidden rules of poverty rather than rules of the middle class—which govern how schools and workplaces function. Payne argues that teachers have the responsibility to teach students these hidden rules explicitly so that they may attain academic success.

Payne’s work is based on a racialized “culture of poverty” model that attributes the failure of the poor to their lack of middle-class behavior and values, a claim argued for centuries. Research on poverty, however, has found that the poor do not have a separate value or belief system. The question, then, is, Why are theories like those advocated by Payne continually recycled and popularized within educational policies and trends?…By concentrating on the deficiencies of particular cultures, Payne and “culture of poverty” ideology not only demonize people of color, but also fail to indict the corrupt system responsible for making and keeping people poor.” Click “Learn More” below to read the full article.

Related readings:
Frech, Rose (2017). Letter: On Bridges out of Poverty. The Columbus Dispatch Opinion Column. Retrieved from: https://www.dispatch.com/opinion/20170915/letter-on-bridges-out-of-poverty

Gorski, Paul C. (2008). ‘Peddling Poverty for Profit: Elements of Oppression in Ruby Payne’s Framework’, Equity & Excellence in Education, 41:1,130 – 148. Retrieved from: https://www.c21uwm.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/gorski.pdf

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