A FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING POVERTY

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A FRAMEWORK
FOR
UNDERSTANDING
POVERTY

Brook Bauer

October
4
,
2007

RUBY PAYNE, Ph.D.

Background


B.A. from Goshen College


Master’s from Western Michigan
University


Doctorate from Loyola University


Has served as a secondary teacher,
elementary principal, and a central
-
office administrator


Since
1994
she has trained as many
as
25
,
000
educators a year on her
philosophy of understanding children
from poverty


Definition of Poverty



The extent to which an individual
does without resources. Poverty is
more about resources than about
money.



RESOURCES



Financial


Emotional


Mental


Spiritual


Physical


Support systems


Relationships/Role Models


Knowledge of hidden rules

Definitions:


Financial



having the money to buy goods and services


Emotional
-

being able to choose and control emotional
responses to negative situations


Mental
-

having the mental abilities and acquired skills to
deal with daily life (reading, writing, computing)


Spiritual
-

believing in divine purpose and guidance


Physical
-

health and mobility


Support systems
-

friends, family, resources available in
times of need


Relationship
-
role models
-

access to adults who are
appropriate, nurturing and who do not engage in self
-
destructive behavior


Knowledge of hidden rules
-

Knowing the unspoken cues
and habits of a group

Implications for School
Personnel


Other resources are more important than money
in poverty. These resources are the ones that
teachers can impact as role models, support
systems, and educators of middle class rules.


Analyze the resources of your students before
dispensing advice. Realize that time, money,
transportation, supervision, telephone, computer
access, food, clothing and shelter may not be
available.


Kids have difficulty being concerned about
homework if they are worried about their basic
needs not being met or if they don’t expect to be
here long.


KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER


Poverty is relative


Poverty occurs in all races and countries


Generational and situational poverty are different


Students bring the hidden rules with which
he/she was raised


Schools operate from middle
-
class norms and
rules


We must understand the hidden rules of poverty
and
teach them the rules that will make them
successful at school and at work.

Current Statistics


In the U.S. , in
2001
, the poverty rate for
children under
18
was
16.3
%. For
children under
6
, the rate was
18.2
%


There were
6.8
million poor families in
2001
.


The U.S.’ child poverty rate is often
2
or
3
times higher than that of most other
industrialized Western nations.


Comparison of Poverty Among Ethnicity
2000
U.S. Census

United States

# of children in
poverty

%age of children
in poverty

All races

11,733,000

16.3%

White


7,527,000

13.4%

African
American


3,492,000

30.2%

Hispanics*


3,570,000

28.0%

Asian
American


369,000

11.5%

Native
American**


260,403

38.8%

*Hispanics may be of any
race.

**Native American numbers
are from the 1990 census.


Family Unit Size
48
Contiguous States and D.C.


1



$
8
,
980



2



12
,
120

3




15
,
260





4



18
,
400

5




21
,
540




6



24
,
680






7



27
,
820



8



30
,
960

For each additional person, add

3
,
140

2003
HHS Poverty Guidelines

SOURCE
:


Federal Register
, Vol.
68
, No.
26
, February
7
,
2003
,
pp.
6456
-
6458
.


Poor Children:


Are much more likely to suffer
developmental delay and damage, to
drop out of school, and to give birth
during the teen years


More likely to be in single
-
parent
families
…median female wages in the US at all levels of
educational attainment are
30
-
50
% lower than male at the same
level of educational attainment.


Poor children:




Are
7
times more likely to be the
victims of child abuse or neglect


While the number of white children in
poverty is the largest group, the
percentage of children in poverty in
minority groups is higher.

Hidden rules of poverty

1.
The noise level is high

2.
The most important information is
non
-
verbal

3.
One of the main values of an
individual to the group is to
entertain

HIDDEN RULES OF POVERTY


Poverty promotes strong beliefs in
fate therefore discipline is NOT
ABOUT CHANGE, it is about
“penance and forgiveness.” Do not
expect change due to discipline.


Hidden Rules of Poverty


Any extra money is shared.


Relationships are more important
that money


HIDDEN RULES OF POVERTY


In poverty separation is not an option
to avoid conflict. You may need to be
able to physically defend your turf.


Poverty perpetuates itself by
supplying role models who only know
its rules of behavior.


Poverty is more about other
resources than it is about money.


Hidden Rules

Generational

Poverty

Middle Class

Wealth

Driving Forces for
decision making

Survival,
Relationships,

Entertainment

Work and
Achievement

Social, Financial,
and Political
connections

Possessions

People

relationships valued
over achievement

Things
---
if material
security is
threatened,
relationship is
broken

Legacies, one
-
of
-
a
-
kind objects, and
pedigrees

“The World”


Local terms

National terms

International terms

Conflict

Physical fighting, no
negotiation skills

Verbal fighting;
physical fighting is
distasteful

Social
inclusion/exclu
-
sion; lawyers

Food

Valued for its
quantity

Valued for its
quality

Valued for its
presentation

THE COST


To move from poverty to middle
class or middle class to wealth, an
individual must give up
relationships for achievement.


Developing relationships with
students is imperative.


Developing Relationships

The teacher:


Calls on everyone in the room
equitably


Provides individual help


Gives “wait” time


Asks questions in such a way that
clues are given within question


Asks questions that require more
thought

Developing Relationships
(continued)

The teacher:


Tells students whether their answers
are wrong or right


Gives specific praise


Gives reasons for praise


Listens


Accepts feelings of the student


Gets within arms reach of each
student every day

Implications for Educators


Educators have tremendous
opportunities to influence some of
the non
-
financial resources that
make such a difference in students’
lives.
It costs nothing to be an
appropriate role model.

Students from poverty may:


Be very disorganized, frequently lose
papers, don’t have signatures


Have many reasons why something is
missing, or the paper is gone


Not do homework


Be physically aggressive


Like to entertain


Students from poverty may:


Only see part of what is on the page


Only do part of the assignment


Not be able to get started


Not monitor their own behavior


Laugh when they are disciplined


Students from poverty may:


Decide whether or not they will work
in your class based on whether or
not they like you


Tell stories in casual register


Not know or use middle class
courtesies


Dislike authority


Talk back


Registers of Language




Every language in the world has 5
registers or levels. The three
educators need to be concerned
about are: formal, consultative, and
casual.

Registers of Language


Formal language
---
word choice of
work and school
---
complete
sentences and specific word choice


Consultative language
---
formal
register used in conversation, but
not as direct as formal register


Casual
---
used between friends,
syntax incomplete

Implications for Educators


Have students write in casual
register (for example write the way
they talk, you know, yeah, huh, etc.)
Then translate to formal register.


Tell stories in formal and casual
register. Have students explain the
difference.

Implications for Educators


Formal register needs to be directly
taught.


Casual register needs to be
recognized as the primary discourse
for many students.


SET HIGH EXPECTATIONS


High expectations should be set for
academics as well as behavior.


No excuses should be accepted and
different standards should not be used.

Implications for Educators


Resources of students should be
analyzed before dispensing advice or
seeking solutions. What may seem to
be very workable suggestions from a
middle class point of view may be
virtually impossible given the
resources available to those in
poverty.



Sources


A Framework for Understanding
Poverty
, Payne, Ruby K., Ph.D.,
1996
.


Indiana Department of Education
Website:
http://www.doe.state.in.us/


Federal Register
, Vol.
68
, No.
26
,
February
7
,
2003
, pp.
6456
-
6458