Several years ago, I invited Randy Bomer to speak at my university and then at the annual South Carolina Council of Teachers of English (SCCTE) convention about the flawed but widely used framework of poverty by Ruby Payne.

After Bomer’s presentation at SCCTE, a woman energetically confronted Bomer, offering an impassioned story of her being from poverty and arguing that Payne’s work resonated with her own lived experiences.

I stood there and watched as Bomer patiently walked her through how her own beliefs about poverty were stereotypes that matched the false narratives sold by Payne. This was an uncomfortable and difficult exchange. But necessary, especially for educators.

This experience was brought back to mind when Nancy Flanagan posted Do Teachers Read Professionally?, which included:

In an earlier incarnation of the course, almost half the teachers (from a single state) mentioned Ruby Payne’s Framework for Understanding Poverty, a book whose ideas and scholarship have been roundly criticized by academics. What to say about that? Payne’s training model had been presented across the state, at conferences and in large districts, and teachers were given a copy of the book. They read it and found it useful.

When I shared Flanagan’s post, she responded with this and then my follow up:

I then added a brief comment about my experience above with Bomer, and added an @ for Paul Gorski to offer some advice.

Gorski’s comments include the following:

The powerful stereotypes, negative and deficit-laden, about people trapped in poverty that pervade the U.S. also infect teachers and even people trapped in poverty themselves.

However, the derogatory claims about people in poverty are false narratives, deforming myths that must be confronted and rejected by educators—as well as anyone seeking social justice, anyone who honors the basic human dignity of all people.

I recommend, then, that educators read the following: