Blog Entry: A Response to “The Classist Underpinnings of Ruby Payne’s Framework”

by Ruby K. Payne - July 14, 2006

These comments are a response to Paul Gorski’s commentary “The Classist Underpinnings of Ruby Payne’s Framework”.

Gorski states that his lens is critical social theory. My theoretical lens is economic pragmatism. The two theoretical frames are almost polar opposites. While both have something to say to the other, I make no apologies for emphasizing the practical and pragmatic. No one can touch all the bases all the time. Focus is essential.

Gorski’s first argument is that the Framework approach “fails to consider the class inequities that pervade U.S. schools.” My work was designed to help teachers educate so that the class inequities that do pervade U.S. schools are lessened. So the work does not minimize the inequities but speaks to how to address them.

His second argument is that a deficit perspective is used because individual behaviors are examined. Individual behaviors are shaped by environments—by racial, economic, religious, and cultural environments. The rules for survival in poverty are different from the rules for survival in middle class. Schools and businesses operate largely out of middle-class hidden rules. The book gives the hidden rules for surviving in school. Poverty doesn’t make one deficient; schools are simply a different environment. All this has little to do with personal deficit—rather the demands of the environment.

His third argument is that my values are “fundamentally conservative and not transformative.” If economic pragmatism is fundamentally conservative, so be it. However, the work does transform. To educate is to transform.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: July 14, 2006 ID Number: 12593, Date Accessed: 1/28/2022 3:47:15 AM

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