stephanie jones

Beware of Ruby Payne…a great resource for school districts

In classism, poverty, professional development resources, social class, teacher education resources on January 2, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Thanks to Jane Van Galen for posting a link to Scott McLeod’s discussion about Ruby Payne’s consulting work with school districts. He asks important questions, including whether schools should continue to spend precious money on a consultant whose work has been disproved for decades. Ruby Payne’s work is riddled with assertions that do not align with decades of research on poverty, and her “strategies” for working with children who are poor are based on nothing but her personal experiences of having never taught poor children herself.

And yet, her book has sold millions of copies (self-published of course; no peer review process like the rest of us have to go through to ensure trustworthy research and assertions), and districts spend tens of thousands of dollars for RP herself and affiliates to come speak to teachers.

There are many alternatives, folks. Much fabulous research on poverty and social class that researchers agree with and recommend to teachers and principals all the time. They’re not quick-fixes (like RP offers) because social inequities were not created overnight, but there are many instructional and interrelational approaches that have been proven to be in the best interest of children and families from low income homes.

  1. I love reading your passionate postings here, Stephanie. There is a real market for all sorts of consultants and speakers, from those who talk about the power of positive thinking to those that discuss little more than how to change parents and their homes into more of a so-called middle-class model in terms of the ways of interacting and material resources. I think of the scarce background in teaching or experience in schools (not to mention data from actual research) that these people have and am disgusted. But then folks are being recruited to run schools with nothing more MBAs–this really burns me up.

    On the matter of language use in schools and cultural competence in your previous post below, a friend recently shared a video with me about the growing number of French dual language schools in NYC, a good, short dual language video made as the first part of a two-part series on dual language ed. Patricia Velasco and Ofelia Garcia are in it. Velasco makes a similar point yo yours about the perceptions people have about French and its status.I thought you might be interested:

    In fact, I believe the creation of these French programs are meant to attract white middle-class families to those schools (even though many communities would benefit from bilingual ed). Recruitment of wealthier parents is sometimes simultaneous with the displacement of communities and the process of gentrification in those same neighborhoods, including less economically resourced families.

    There are so many rampant injustices taking place in the schools right now on all different levels.

    Please continue to post your alternative ideas!

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