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1 Insisting on Equity: Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne’s Framework
by Paul C. Gorski and the Minnesota Chapter of The National Association for Multicultural Education

2 I. Introduction and Agenda
Who is present? Introducing MN-NAME and me Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

3 Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework
A. Agenda Setting the Context Introduction of Ruby Payne’s framework Introduction of the lens for critical reflection Critical Reflection 1: Conservative frame of reference Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

4 Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework
A. Agenda (cont’d) Critical Reflection 2: Failure to acknowledge systemic classism Critical Reflection 3: Deficit perspective Additional points for reflection An authentic framework for understanding poverty and eradicating classism Discussion Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

5 Part II: Setting the Context

6 II. Setting the Context: Acknowledging Dangerous Terrain
Difficulty discussing class and poverty in the U.S. Most teachers are middle class and white Myth of meritocracy “War against the poor”—welfare mothers, unmotivated parents, violent criminals, lazy addicts Socialization for classism Popularity of Ruby Payne and her work I acknowledge and accept the negative backlash that results Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

7 II. Setting the Context: My Intentions
Focus on Payne’s work and positionality in relation to that work, not on Payne, the individual person Assume positive intentions in Payne’s work, but don’t assume that positive intentions lead to positive impact Raise sometimes-difficult questions in the pursuit of deeper understanding and the elimination classism and racism from schools and society Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

8 II. Setting the Context: Starting with What We Know
Decades of documentation on systemic class inequities in and out of schools Growing concern over Ruby Payne’s work among activists and educators (many people engaging in this critique) Increasingly conservative education system – high-stakes testing, standards movement, prescribed curricula, NCLB, growing cost of higher education; students in poverty most adversely affected Increasingly conservative public policy, cutting programs for socioeconomically disadvantaged families Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

9 II. Setting the Context: Starting with What We Know, Pt. II
“Poor children bear the brunt of almost every imaginable social ill. In disproportionate numbers, they suffer hunger and homelessness; untreated sickness…; lead poisoning and other forms of environmental pollution… Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

10 II. Setting the Context: Starting with What We Know, Pt. III
“… These same children are assigned, again in skewed numbers, to the nation’s worst public schools—schools in the worst states of disrepair and with the lowest levels of per-pupil funding. Not surprisingly, therefore, poor children as a group lag far behind others in educational achievement” (Books, 2004). Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

11 Part III: Introducing Ruby Payne’s Framework

12 III. Introducing Payne’s Framework: The Hidden Rules
“Economic realities create ‘hidden rules,’ unspoken cueing mechanisms that reflect agreed upon tacit understandings, which the group uses to negotiate reality” (Payne, 2002, p. 1). Payne establishes her understanding of these hidden rules as they pertain to various values and relationships for people in poverty, the middle class, and the upper class. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

13 III. Introducing Payne’s Framework: The Purpose of the Framework
to help educators better understand the culture that students from families in poverty carry into school with them, and to instruct educators on the importance of and techniques for teaching students in poverty the hidden rules of the middle class—values upon which the public school system is built. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

14 Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework
III. Introducing Payne’s Framework: The Sources Behind Payne’s Framework Despite the fact that many people refer to Payne’s work as “research,” it is not research, but a philosophical framework Based largely on the 1950’s and early 1960’s work of Oscar Lewis who studied small communities of peasants in Mexico. Much of Lewis’ work has been discredited within anthropology and sociology (Goode & Eames, 1996). Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

15 Part IV: Lens for Critical Reflection

16 IV. Lens for Critical Reflection: Critical Social Theory
Situated in historical and political context (as everything is) Challenges theories and practices that simplify complexities, ignore systemic oppression, and as a result, fail to uncover the power and privilege dynamics of social conditions Addresses both content and context of work, including the source’s positionality Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

17 Part V: A Conservative Frame of Reference

18 V. Conservative Frame: Conceptualizing “Conservative”
Aimed at conserving status quo rather than facilitating substantial shifts in consciousness or policy Inconsistent with philosophies of education equity, multicultural education, etc. Consistent with and supportive of a variety of other conservative social and educational policies (NCLB, high-stakes testing, assimilation) Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

19 V. Conservative Frame: The Critical Context, Pt. 1
Ruby Payne has written in uncritical support of No Child Left Behind. Four-part series for Instructional Leader From part 1: “Do We Really Need the Legislation No Child Left Behind? ... The short answer is yes” (2003, p. 3). This, despite living in Texas, where NCLB’s precursors led were devastating to socioeconomically disadvantaged students and students of color Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

20 V. Conservative Frame: The Critical Context, Pt. 2
Ruby Payne cites extreme right-wing sources in her work. Staying with NCLB series, she cites: Thomas Sowell (who she also identifies as her “hero”), fellow of the right-wing Hoover Institution and a leading conservative critic of any progressive school reform Hernando de Soto, right-wing economist Hannity and Colmes of Fox News Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

21 V. Conservative Frame: The Critical Context, Pt. 3
Follow the money. Payne has contributed thousands of dollars to the Bush/Cheney campaigns. This, despite the fact that Bush’s policies have been at best negligent toward socioeconomically disadvantaged people A tool: Federal Election Commission Web site (web) Note: Not a judgment of intent, but an attempt to understand Payne’s work in context Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

22 V. Conservative Frame: The Reframing of Poverty, Pt. 1
Conservative Reframing 1: Blaming poverty on what are outcomes of and not reasons for poverty: “Poverty is caused by interrelated factors: parental employment status and earnings, family structure, and parental education” (2001, p. 12) These don’t cause poverty. They reflect the impact of poverty (Rank, 2004). Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

23 V. Conservative Frame: The Reframing of Poverty, Pt. 2
Conservative Reframing 2: “Culture” or “mindset” of poverty But, “Research has repeatedly demonstrated that those who fall below the poverty line…hold the same fundamental aspirations, beliefs, and hopes” (Rank, 2005, p. 48) as wealthy or middle class people. In other words, research shows that the “mindset” or “culture” of poverty DOES NOT EXIST. Such a focus diverts attention from classism. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

24 Part VI: Failure to Address Systemic Classism “The principal subject of poverty research…ought to be the forces, processes, agents, and institutions…that decide a proportion of the population will end up poor.” (Herbert Gans in The War Against the Poor)

25 VI. Ignoring Systemic Classism: The Data
Compared with low-poverty schools, high-poverty schools have: More teachers teaching in areas outside their certification; More serious teacher turnover problems; More teacher vacancies; Larger numbers of substitute teachers; More limited access to computers and the Internet; Inadequate facilities (such as science labs); Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

26 VI. Ignoring Systemic Classism: The Data (cont’d)
More dirty or inoperative bathrooms; More evidence of vermin such as cockroaches and rats; Insufficient classroom materials Less rigorous curricula; Fewer experienced teachers; Lower teacher salaries; Larger class sizes; and Less funding. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

27 VI. Ignoring Systemic Classism: The Data (References)
Barton, P.E. (2004). Why does the gap persist? Educational Leadership 62(3), 8-13. Barton, P.E. (2003). Parsing the achievement gap: Baselines for tracking progress. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Carey, K. (2005). The funding gap 2004: Many states still shortchange low-income and minority students. Washington, D.C.: The Education Trust. National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (2004). Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education: A two-tiered education system. Washington, D.C.: Author. Rank, M.R. (2004). One nation, underprivileged: Why American poverty affects us all. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

28 VI. Ignoring Systemic Classism: The Question
Ruby Payne doesn’t mention a single one of these “savage inequalities” in A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Can we understand the relationship between poverty and education without considering the ways in which the education system contributes to classism and the cycle of poverty? Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

29 VI. Ignoring Systemic Classism: The Other Question
What is the problem?: That students don’t know the “culture” of the middle class; or That the education system is designed to privilege middle class and wealthy students at the expense of socioeconomically disadvantaged students? From the critical social theory perspective, addressing the former without addressing the latter is an expression of privilege. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

30 VI. Ignoring Systemic Classism: No “Power and Privilege” Context
Avoids discussion of class power and privilege as they relate to: High-stakes testing Tracking Re-segregation of schools Curriculum Expectations All issues that uphold classist power and privilege structure in schools Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

31 VI. Ignoring Systemic Classism: Agents of Assimilation?
What does it mean that Ruby Payne is asking teachers, most of whom are middle class, to teach socioeconomically disadvantaged students the “culture” of the middle class? By not addressing systemic classism, is she asking us to assimilate students into the very system that oppresses them? Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

32 VI. Ignoring Systemic Classism: Band-Aid Reform?
Payne provides a couple useful short-term strategies and add-ons that help students acculturate to a hostile system (see pp ). But the question left unaddressed: How can we transform policies and practices so that these short-term strategies won’t be necessary? Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

33 VI. Ignoring Systemic Classism: Summarizing
Without…attention to relations of domination and subordination as they reside in economic class, the attention to ‘cultural backgrounds’ of students is inadequate on two counts: First, culture is importantly influenced by economic class in contemporary society, and second, school cultures devalue the knowledge and practices of the working and poverty classes while privileging the knowledge and practices of the propertied classes. (Tozer, 2000, p. 156) Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

34 VI. Ignoring Systemic Classism: Summarizing Pt. 2
Most scholars do not conjecture about the class structure, recent intensification of social class distinctions, or proliferation of tools designed to solidify and reify distinctions. They do spend time trying to explain the class-correlated differential educational outcomes in ways that are not attributed to their own desires or actions. (Brantlinger, 2003, p. 21) Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

35 VI. Ignoring Systemic Classism: The Effect
Allows people from middle and upper classes—people privileged by the education system—to avoid responsibility for classism Can never effectively serve the needs of socioeconomically disadvantaged without understanding systemic classism The “Taco Night” effect Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

36 Part VII: The Deficit Perspective

37 VII. The Deficit Perspective: What Is It?
Explains discrepancies in achievement by pointing to “deficient” cultures and behaviors in a group of people Draws on stereotypes—usually those already socially established So, we address poverty by “fixing” poor people instead of fixing the conditions that maintain poverty Justifies continued oppression Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

38 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Exemplified in Payne’s Framework
The root of her framework—that poverty persists because people in poverty don’t know the rules of the middle class Drawing on stereotypes Invisibility of the “average” socioeconomically disadvantaged students or families Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

39 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Stereotype 1
People in poverty are bad parents: “The typical pattern in poverty for discipline is to verbally chastise the child, or physically beat the child, then forgive and feed him/her” (p. 37). Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

40 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Stereotype 2
People in poverty are criminals: “Also, individuals in poverty are seldom going to call the police, for two reasons: First, the police may be looking for them…” (pp ) Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

41 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Stereotype 3
People in poverty are disloyal: “Allegiances may change overnight; favoritism is a way of life” (p. 74). Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

42 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Stereotype 4
People in poverty are violent and “on the streets”: “If students from poverty don’t know how to fight physically, they are going to be in danger on the streets” (p. 100). Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

43 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Stereotype 5
People in poverty are unmotivated addicts: “And for some [people in poverty], alcoholism, laziness, lack of motivation, drug addiction, etc., in effect make the choices for the individual” (p. 148). Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

44 VII. The Deficit Perspective: The Invisible Reality
Most people in poverty are responsible, hard-working, drug- and alcohol-free, and not “on the streets.” (Also, a majority live in rural communities and are white.) Where are these people in A Framework for Understanding Poverty? Critical consideration: How do we conceptualize “violent”? Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

45 VII. The Deficit Perspective: The Scenarios
Most egregious examples of stereotyping and deficit thinking found in Payne’s Scenarios. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

46 VII. The Deficit Perspective: First Scenario
Features John, an 8-year old white boy with an alcoholic single mother. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

47 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Second Scenario
Involves Vangie, an African American woman who dropped out of school, had a kid at 14, three more by the age of 18, and now collects welfare. Her boyfriend has been arrested for assault. Her sister is being beaten by her boyfriend. She just “beat the fool out of” her son, Otis, because he was misbehaving at school. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

48 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Third Scenario
Oprah, another African American woman, leaves her daughter, Opie, in the care of Opie’s “senile” grandmother and unemployed uncle. Oprah is 32 and has 5 children. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

49 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Fourth Scenario
Noemi, a Latina who left school after sixth grade, married at 16, then had five kids in eleven years. Neither she nor her husband, who works sporadically, is familiar with the term “encyclopedia.” She doesn’t speak English. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

50 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Sixth Scenario
Ramón, a 25-year-old Latino drug dealer and gang leader, cares for his nephew, Juan, whose father was killed by a rival gang. Juan’s mother is in jail for gang-related activities. Ramón can’t go to a parent-teacher conference because he’s hiding from police. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

51 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Seventh Scenario
SueAnn has been married and divorced twice. She’s 33 and a high school drop-out. Her older daughter is pregnant (she had this daughter in high school). Her third husband is unemployed and irresponsible, not wanting to take care of the kids. He was just arrested for driving while intoxicated. Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

52 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Summarizing the Scenarios
Do these scenarios represent most people in poverty? Why are 5 out of the 7 scenarios about families of color when most people in poverty are white? How do these scenarios play into the stereotypes people already have about people in poverty? Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

53 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Linguistic Deficit
Language of students seen as the reason for achievement level Mocking “discourse pattern”: “beat[ing] around the bush”; “circling the mulberry bush”; “meander[ing] almost endlessly through a topic” (pp. 43 & 45) Underlying assumption of linguistic superiority Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

54 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Linguistics: The Reality
All language varieties contain formal and informal registers—Payne connects these to specific classes Language varieties should be seen in light of resilience—the maintenance of cultural ties despite generations of oppression Payne’s simplistic analysis of language registers ignores enormous diversity among people of different classes Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

55 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Other Examples
Racism in Scenarios Students need “classroom survival skills” (p. 96) Recommends “training” for parents (p. 95) “Spiritual” poverty Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

56 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Implications
Reinforces middle- and upper-class notions of “undeserving poor” (Rank, 2004)—as morally deficient Deterioration of public support for effective and systemic anti-poverty social and educational policy Relieves middle- and upper-class individuals’ of responsibility for dealing with their own classism Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

57 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Implications (Cont’d)
... American policy will continue to be the present subsistence level, which seeks to keep the undeserving poor functioning at the subsistence level, although that policy may start deteriorating to a survival mode, in which help to the poor is supplied only at the level that avoids politically embarrassing increases in extreme misery … among them... (Rank, 2004, p. 103) Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

58 VII. The Deficit Perspective: Implications (Cont’d)
“… it is all too easy to assign the primary onus of responsibility to parents in [high-poverty] neighborhoods… In a nation in which fairness was respected, children of the poorest and least educated mothers would receive the most extensive and most costly preschool preparation, not the least and cheapest…” (Kozol, 2006, p. 54) Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

59 Part VIII: Other Points for Reflection

60 VIII. Other Points for Reflection
Failure to connect poverty and racism Christian-centrism Shift from Kozol to Payne Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

61 VIII. Other Points for Reflection
“There is something deeply hypocritical in a society that holds an inner-city child only eight years old ‘accountable’ for her performance on a high-stakes standardized exam but does not hold the high officials of our government accountable for robbing her of what they gave their own kids six or seven years before” (Kozol, 2006, pp ) Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

62 Part IX: Authentic Framework for Understanding Poverty and Eliminating Classism

63 IX. Authentic Framework: Key Principles
Based on understanding of classism in the context of a society hostile toward people in poverty Based on understanding of power and privilege Based on understanding of intersections of oppressions Critical of the “war against the poor” Shift of policy and consciousness as well as practice Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

64 IX. Authentic Framework: In Practice
Know your classism Never make assumptions about students or their parents Address invisibility of the poor and working class and their concerns in the curriculum Make parent involvement affordable and convenient Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

65 IX. Authentic Framework: In “Bigger Picture” Practice
Eliminate structural inequities De-track Challenge NCLB Eliminate high-stakes testing Challenge consumer culture Fight vouchers and choice programs that further privilege the privileged Uncovering Classism and Racism in Ruby Payne's Framework

66 Paul C. Gorski gorski@EdChange.org http://www.EdChange.org
Part X: Discussion Paul C. Gorski


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