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Putting Poor People to Work: How the Work-First Idea Eroded College Access for the Poor


reviewed by Sue Books — November 09, 2007

coverTitle: Putting Poor People to Work: How the Work-First Idea Eroded College Access for the Poor
Author(s): Kathleen M. Shaw, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Christopher Mazzeo, and Jerry A. Jacobs
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation, New York
ISBN: 0871547759, Pages: 199, Year: 2006
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The idea that the poor, first and foremost, should go to work and not waste time in college now dominates public policy, with profound consequences for the poor. In Putting Poor People to Work, Kathleen Shaw, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Christopher Mazzeo, and Jerry Jacobs trace the “ascendance of the work-first idea” -- the belief that the poor should be put to work immediately -- into popular discourse and public policy (p. 2). They look at how this idea has shaped federal policy and what implementation at the state and local levels of the 1996 welfare-reform legislation and the 1998 workforce-development legislation has meant for the poor. Putting Poor People to Work is well written, thoroughly researched, cogently argued, and important.  The work-first rhetoric has done a lot of damage. As the ideological steam behind the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (commonly known as welfare reform) and then the Workforce Investment... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: November 09, 2007
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14744, Date Accessed: 12/15/2017 1:34:16 AM

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About the Author
  • Sue Books
    SUNY New Paltz
    E-mail Author
    SUE BOOKS is a Professor in the Department of Secondary Education at SUNY New Paltz. Currently on sabbatical in South Africa, she is the author of Poverty and Schooling: Contexts and Consequences (2004) and the editor of Invisible Children in the Society and its Schools, 3rd edition (2007).
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