The Classist Underpinnings of Ruby Payne's Framework
by Paul Gorski - February 09, 2006
Ruby Payne and her book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty are standard fare in multicultural education classes, school staff development workshops, and the general educational milieu. But an analysis of her work, particularly from an equity and social justice perspective, reveals a steady stream of assumptions, stereotypes, and misperceptions which may actually contribute to classist policy and practice instead of creating an equitable learning environment for students in poverty. The purpose of this essay is to uncover these assumptions, stereotypes, and misperceptions by exploring three themes in Payne’s work: (1) a failure to consider systemic class inequities in schools, (2) a reliance on the cultural deficit perspective; and (3) fundamentally conservative underlying values.
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