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A Response to Ruby Payne's Claim That the Deficit Thinking Model Has No Scholarly Utility


by Richard R. Valencia — June 25, 2009

Recently, entrepreneur Dr. Ruby K. Payne (Payne, 2009) responded to a critique by Bomer, Dworin, May, and Semingson (2008) who criticize her best-selling book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty (Payne, 2005). Bomer et al. (2008) underscore that her work lacks scientific competence. Payne (2009), in turn, asserts that the authors — in their refutation — rely on “social determinism” and are inaccurate in their claim that Payne (2005) does not rely on valid scientific evidence. Payne (2009) also asserts that Bomer et al.’s (2008) use of the deficit thinking model to describe her work is without merit because the model (Valencia, 1997a) has no scholarly utility. In my response, I challenge Payne’s (2009) dismissal of the deficit thinking model. I do so by focusing on (a) the theoretical nature of the deficit thinking model and (b) the applicability of the model in understanding the linkages among deficit thinking, educability perceptions of poor students and students of color, the politics of oppression, the practice of schooling, and school failure.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: June 25, 2009
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15691, Date Accessed: 10/21/2017 2:35:23 AM

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About the Author
  • Richard Valencia
    The University of Texas at Austin
    E-mail Author
    RICHARD R. VALENCIA is Professor of Educational Psychology and Faculty Associate of the Center for Mexican American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in the education of students of color, particularly Mexican Americans (e.g., school failure and success; social thought; legal history; testing issues. He is the editor of The Evolution of Deficit Thinking: Educational Thought and Practice (1997, Falmer Press). His current project is a book-length manuscript, Deficit Thinking in Education Revisited (under review, Routledge).
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