Critiquing “The Culture of Poverty”

Another good article on the limitations of Ruby Payne’s work from Teaching Tolerance, the journal of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

One paragraph caught my eye: When teachers in a workshop with the author began complaining about parents not showing up for meetings or conferences, he asked how many of them had driven to work that day. 100% had. He asked them, then, how many of the parents of the students owned cars, so that they could freely come and go. The answer was 11%.

How did we come to have schools in which teachers hadn’t already asked themselves that question, where they assumed, instead, that parents simply didn’t care about education or about their kids when they didn’t come to things that the school had scheduled?

And more importantly, how did we come to live in a society in which the fact that a good number of families simply cannot afford cars is invisible to even well-educated and well-intended people?

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