Payne, Jensen, and a New Window on Poverty and Education: A Conversation Among Equity Advocates

by Paul C. Gorski

Is Eric Jensen more or less Ruby Payne on steroids?

Over the past decade or so, the education world has been overloaded with new and contradicting frameworks for talking about poverty, equity, and educational outcomes. Perhaps the most dominant voices coming out of the deluge belong to Ruby Payne, the author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty and more or less last remaining purveyor of the "culture of poverty" myth, and Eric Jensen, the author of Teaching with Poverty in Mind who draws heavily on brain research. 

Several days ago Lisa Cooley, an advocate for educational equity and school board member based in Jackson, Maine, posted the following question on a couple of Facebook pages:
Does anyone here have experience with this book? 
Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids' Brains and What Schools Can Do about It by Eric Jensen
Familiar with the book, I responded, sharing my concerns. Then I spent much of the rest of the day responding to people's responses to my concerns. 

Below I share a good chunk of the conversation, with Lisa Cooley's permission. What you see below is posted in a similar form on her Blog, The Minds of Kids

Here, first, is my initial response to her question about Jensen's book. Note that I was pounding this out off the cuff on Facebook, so it might come across a little drafty. I also have added some clarifying phrases to the original text, all of which are in [brackets].
Eric Jensen more or less is Ruby Payne on steroids. He uses a narrowly focused approach to brain research to make claims that fail to take into account the same contextual and social conditions Ruby Payne doesn't take into account in her work. Just to give you a snapshot, here is something Jensen wrote in an article in Ed Leadership: 
"We know, for example, that the poor and middle classes have many overlapping values, including valuing education and the importance of hard work (Gorski, 2008). But if poor people were exactly the same cognitively, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally as those from the middle class, then the exact same teaching provided to both middle-class students and students from poverty would bring the exact same results." (Note that he cites me in this passage.) 
His argument is very Payne-esque, making big statements based on a little sliver of knowledge, completely ignoring structural inequity both in and out of schools. First, he misapplied my argument, which was that there are structural barriers that cause class-based outcome inequalities. (He speaks to some of these in his article, like a lack of access to healthy foods, but then fails to say, hey, maybe if we provided low-income kids with healthier foods [or provided their parents with a living wage so they could serve their children healthier foods], that would help.) 
Then he takes an even bigger step ignoring structural barriers. It frightens me that anybody who works with youth wouldn't be able to pick up on this pretty quickly. Take two students, one who has lived a life in poverty and one who has been given every material advantage. Even if the student whose family is in poverty has the same innate cognitive and intellectual potential as the wealthy student, why would we expect "the exact same results"? 
The lower-income student is more likely to have parents who work multiple jobs and evening jobs, giving them less time to help with homework. They're less likely to have access to nutritious food. They're less likely to have access to tutors and other "shadow education." They're less likely to have stable housing or high-quality health care, particularly preventive health care. Inside school, they're more likely to have had the least experienced teachers. They are more likely to be in schools that are grossly under-resourced. They on average will be in schools with larger class sizes, less engaging pedagogies, and with little or no physical education, recess, the arts, and school nurses. [These, ultimately, are the conditions that most clearly underlie educational outcome disparities.]
So, the very notion underlying Jensen's work is 100% wrong. In fact, it's deficit ideology. It ignores the need to address structural conditions--very, very basic structural conditions. The brain research Jensen cites is notable in that it describes what can be the impacts of poverty [such as the inability to afford healthy food and how that might affect brain development]. So then we need to decide, are we going to focus our energy on mitigating those impacts through a deficit lens that sees low-income students' brains as the problem [in other words, see poverty as the symptom], or are we going to eliminate the conditions of inequality that creates the impacts? If I'm a teacher, why not focus on creating an equitable learning environment and responding to the unequal distribution of opportunity within my sphere of influence (at the very least) rather than locating the "problem" in the brains of low-income kids?
I think his model allows people to hold onto their deficit views by claiming they're engaging with a scientific explanation, which makes the framework very, very dangerous.
Alejandra Estrada-Burt, an assistant principal at a school in suburban Minneapolis, who also was familiar with Jensen's work, shared her considerably more favorable view on Jensen
I understand why Gorski is critiquing Jensen's work but having read his books and listening to Jensen present a few times: I would say that his overall message to teachers is no excuses...students from poverty can perform at high levels when they are presented with high levels of cognitively engaging materials. In one presentation he cites research on what would happen if you removed the bottom 10 percent of low performing teachers in U.S. The visual graph showed quite a substantial jump in academic proficiency. Look Jensen's an easy guy to critique ...gets paid thousands of dollars to keynote, lives in Hawaii, etc. The cynic in me would also argue that he is the package that delivers a message that will be received by most teachers (please read in between the lines)....the reality is that there is no silver bullet to save schools...just like weight loss ...schools and teachers have to put in the work of collectively raising the bar for themselves and for their students.
My Response to Alejandra, in which I'm explaining, more or less, that, yes, we have to raise our own bar as educators and that begins with not buying into simplistic explanations for complex conditions:
Yes, that could be [Jensen's] overall intended message, but it's still grounded in a deficit framework, so it doesn't deal with the biggest ideological barrier. 
And really, it's not so much about him or about Payne as individuals. It's about how we, in education, continue to have unsophisticated conversations about equity and justice issues. If we were willing to have more sophisticated conversations about [poverty], Payne wouldn't be dominating the conversation because people would recognize her work as inaccurate and damaging [as demonstrated here, here, and here, among other places].  
And by the way, even though I didn't address the "no excuses" message in Jensen's work, I think that message has done a lot of damage in public education because it's meant to divert attention from the structural barriers that Jensen ignores. Saying that low-income kids don't perform in school as well as their wealthier [peers] because they have crappy healthcare, unstable housing, and fewer material resources is not an excuse. It's a reality. And it's a reality that won't disappear if we cut the 10% of lowest-performing teachers (which is basically still a deficit ideology approach [only directed at teachers rather than low-income families]).
Lisa Cooley chimed back in, honing in on the "no excuses" message:
I have difficulty with this statement, "I would say that his overall message to teachers is no excuses ... students from poverty can perform at high levels levels when they are presented with high levels of cognitively engaging materials."

So what do you do with that no-excuses policy? Teach kids the same stuff...giving special attention to those "struggling learners" who are, usually, poor? That's what we do in my district. But "struggling learner" is just a euphemism for "dumb kids," isn't it?

Teach kids from a strengths-based pedagogy; teach them the causes of poverty and the results. Create a democratic school structure where all voices are equal.
Alejandra Estrada-Burt responded, sort of capturing a middle ground for her view, Lisa's view, and my view:
That is the problem with most educational speakers and theoretical conversations: ... it does not break it down enough for teachers to answer your question, Lisa Cooley...teachers want to know how that plays out in their individual classroom with their students....in theory most educators can accept reframing the conversation from a strength based model...but teachers want support on what they should be doing different. Eric Jensen is one of a few speakers that actually models for teachers strategies and highlights areas where they can better support students in their classroom. I appreciate that he moves beyond the typical sit and get presentations. Jensen is only one perspective but I do believe he helps teachers move along a continuum of a broader understanding toward a more Gorski understanding....but I agree that Jensen does so without calling out the white elephants....
Kenneth Varner, who grew up in poverty, later became a public school teacher, and currently teaches at Louisiana State University, challenged everyone participating in the conversation thread to retain a critical view, describing why he does, in fact, take more personal offense at Payne, Jensen, and others who use a deficit view toward people in poverty:
For those of us who grew up in poverty, and I am squarely in that camp. Not only did our teachers ignore the systemic and structural barriers that Paul C. Gorski so aptly points out, but they did so against a backdrop that saw us not as having less resources but being less worthy. When I taught in the same district I went to school in was the first time I saw how it played out, behind closed doors, the way colleagues, and I only saw it briefly because once I challenged them they simply stopped, talked about children and families. If you don't see yourself and the humanity in those you teach, even recognizing the systemic barriers will do little good because you will have already set yourself up as being different (better) than those you serve. Unlike Paul I am willing to say that I find Jensen and Payne sickening and problematic as humans; that they exploit poverty for their own significant financial gain AND fail to [consider] the systemic ways in which poverty operates and how they actively contribute to the exacerbation of punitive teaching lumped on to children historically underrepresented...
I then responded to Alejandra Estrada-Burt's previous point, referencing Kenneth Varner's post, explaining how gathering a lot of practical strategies, and putting them into practice through a larger understanding of poverty that remains full of bias and misunderstanding leaves us, more or less, at bias and misunderstanding: 
Payne and Jensen both talk about practical applications, which is part of their draw. But part of their draw, in my opinion, also is in talking about those practical applications through a framework that doesn't feel threatening--a simplistic framework that doesn't challenge the existing biases of the audience. Now this is where I would separate Payne and Jensen. In Payne's case, the practical strategies are based on misinformation. One study found dozens of factual errors in her work, such as how she describes "language registers" in a way that is completely at odds with decades of linguistics scholarship, or her statement that low-income people don't value education, which I have refuted in my own scholarship

Jensen does draw on scholarship, although my reading of his work suggests that he applies it quite narrowly, as is the case in the overall "brain research" obsession in education today. Still, he does provide some research-based strategies. But here's the problem that remains, and it goes back to Kenneth Varner's comment above. The problem is the lack of attention to the structural stuff, which doesn't have to be the very central message, but does need to be part of the central framework, in my view. 

My experience working with teachers--and understand that often I'm the one districts bring in to clean up the bias-laced messes left by Payne and others--is that, without the structural view, many apply the most practical, hands-on strategies discussed by Payne and Jensen within a classroom context that is still full of class bias and misunderstanding. 

I'm not talking about bad, aggressively discriminatory teachers here--I'm talking about very well-intentioned teachers who, in the end, still think that poor people are poor because of their own deficiencies (which also remains the dominant view in the US, so it's not unique to teachers, but it is something they probably should not have if they have gone through a decent teacher ed program) and that the way to improve educational outcomes is to fix those deficiencies. 

They go through the [Payne or] Jensen workshop and still are talking about how badly low-income people parent or how they wish low-income people would care more about school. When I wrote Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty, one of my goals was to demonstrate that teachers could enthusiastically have a broader and deeper and more complex conversation. [I believed] that, if [the conversation was] couched in a way that wasn't blaming them and that recognized the challenges they faced in their work (and that recognized that teachers, themselves, are targets of a deficit view--blamed, as they are, for all kinds of things that are not really in their control, by among other things the "no excuses" bit), teachers would be very willing to talk about the bigger structural issues. 

That's because I simply don't believe it's possible to create real change in even a little context [like a classroom or school] without understanding the bigger conditions. How can I create equitable opportunities for family engagement if I don't realize how the lack of living wage work impacts low-income students and their families? 

If I believe they're not showing up because they don't care, if that's my interpretation, then what are the strategies I'm going to be able to imagine for addressing such problems? So having a few practical strategies within a bigger misunderstanding is problematic. It's also inefficient. But most importantly it's oppressive. [Note that this really is a criticism of Payne's view, not Jensen's. He does challenge some of Payne's stereotypes in his own work.]

In the case of Payne, I think she knows full well she's being oppressive. She's read the responses to her work. She knows by now it's junk. In the case of Jensen, he's applying his narrow bit of expertise to a problem and people are interpreting it as the way to address the problem [rather than one angle on the problem,  as Alejandra described it], either because they don't understand that the problem is much bigger than a lack of practical strategies and the explanation is much bigger than brain stuff or because it's easier to model a few strategies than to create more substantive and equitable change. [I'd like to add here that referring to Jensen's "narrow bit of expertise" is not meant to be a criticism. We all have narrow bits of expertise. Again, it's not about his framework, but about the way it's applied as though it's the single path toward solving an endlessly complex set of problems.]

Well, I'm not settling for that. Teachers are capable of doing something more than adding a few strategies to their pedagogies, and it starts with ideological shifts. When the ideology shifts, the practice shifts to be in line with the ideology. That's what I see in schools. And that's where Payne is a complete disaster and Jensen is, at best, underdeveloped. 

The quote I shared earlier [see very top of thread] from his work demonstrates his own lack of understanding. Why would I want somebody who doesn't understand something so fundamental about poverty and how it works training teachers on how to work with students in poverty? 

I will add--and I talk about this in my book--that [David] Berliner and some of the other people writing solely about structural stuff and wagging their fingers at people who are doing anything focused more on teaching practice also should be more careful, in my view. To me, it's a both/and, not an either/or, which is why I have ended almost everything I've ever written about these issues with a list of strategies. [As I argue in Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty, it is important to provide teachers with practical strategies as we work together toward the larger change, but even those practical strategies will not work if we don't apply them with a deep understanding of the structural conditions Berliner has described so clearly in his work.]

One other quick thing, and refer again to some of Paul Thomas's [writing] on this... The other dangerous ideological frame around this conversation is the GRIT stuff, which argues, more or less, that rather than tearing down the barriers of inequity, we should help marginalized youth develop the resiliency and grit to overcome those barriers. That is the worst of deficit ideology. [This approach is roughly akin to saying that we can end sexual assault by teaching women self-defense.]
I actually don't think drawing on brain research is problematic. I just think we need to draw on a wide swath of research and couch things in a structural understanding. Kind of makes me think of [pieces] that Gloria Ladson-Billings and Lisa Delpit have written about helping African American youth strengthen their abilities to navigate racist spaces. The reason they're talking about helping African American youth but are not doing deficit ideology is that they couch their discussions of this in a bigger context of recognizing and addressing structural racism. They're saying, “Until we get this bigger structural racism thing worked out, we better help kids navigate it so they don't get swallowed up, but we also better not come up with these strategies in ways that ignore the existence of structural racism, or they're sure to be swallowed up eventually.”
Lisa Cooley worried that couching even the conversation about practical responses in a structural view might come across as "attacking" teachers:
Paul C. Gorski, I think you are asking people -- teachers, administrators, etc. -- to think more deeply than they might have under the influence of Payne or Jensen. And it may be difficult under the current circumstances of the attack on teachers. As evidenced by the rise of the Badass Teachers Association, teachers are circling the wagons, and with good reason -- the attacks come from every direction. Now, I understand that your approach is NOT in any sense an attack on teachers, but they have to cope with so many trends and fads and practices that are downright antithetical to everything they know about learning -- so they might consider this new approach, while worthwhile, yet another thing they are required to do.

Now, I think there are requirements, and there are requirements, and yours is in quite a different category from, say, the Common Core Standards. But it does require that an entire school staff think more deeply about their place in kids' lives, and how they can adjust the culture of a school to do right be all kids.
My experience, though, belied her concern. In my experience all over the U.S. (and all over the world, really), teachers have been appreciative of the more complex conversation. I describe this below, along with the approach I take to make sure the conversation isn't framed in ways that blame teachers:
I work with schools all over the country and I get very, very little resistance because my approach begins with an acknowledgement of the challenge educators are up against. Remember, part of my structural message is that teachers, too, are targets of a deficit view. Even as there are some teachers who point the blame at "uncaring parents," a lot of people in the U.S. are being socialized to blame teachers for educational outcomes. 
In the end, my experience has been that educators appreciate being engaged on a deeper level than they are with [Ruby] Payne['s framework]. My message is not "it's teachers' fault." My message is that, with some basic shifts in ideology, teachers can be even better advocates for their students. My message is that some of those nasty ed reform initiatives are harming teachers, students (and particularly already-marginalized students), and families--that the people who feel disempowered by what's happening in education today should be careful not to participate in that divide-and-conquer game of blaming each other but instead learn to understand the contextual stuff that makes all of them targets [of a deficit "blaming the victim" view]. In the end, teachers' interests are very much aligned with the interests of their most disenfranchised students. In one of the Powerpoints I use, my first slide is a photo of my Appalachian grandma who grew up in poverty. The title is "How I know 'the poor' are not 'the problem'". The very next slide is a photo of me with Mr. Hill, the teacher who made me care about these issues. The title is "How I know teachers are an important part of the solution." It's about framing.
This is where the conversation continued onto a different thread, again introduced by Lisa Cooley. She asked me in a public post to describe the "messes" that Ruby Payne leaves behind--messes I'm often invited to come into schools and help resolve after Payne has been there, sometimes for several years. 

I responded, explaining how very committed and very well-intended educators can be thrown off-track by professional development that is grounded in deficit views:
Mostly it's just a confirmation of deficit views, but it comes through as teachers speaking very confidently about poverty, not realizing how misinformed they've been by Payne. It's all the basic stereotypes. They don't care about education. They speak in informal register. They struggle to communicate effectively. It's all about what [the teachers] need to understand about what's broken in low-income families, although they'd never use the word "broken" because that would be too explicitly biased. 

Go back to the example of family involvement. I've worked with schools where, based on Payne's message, the primary strategy for increasing family involvement was to find ways to convince low-income families they should care more about their children's education. 

Well, we know based on about 45 years of research that low-income families have the exact same attitudes about the importance of education as their wealthier peers [see references to some of that research in this article]--that that's not why they show up in lower numbers to family engagement [activities] hosted at schools. So now they're using strategies that are actually further alienating low-income families rather than asking themselves whether the family engagement opportunities they provide are scheduled in ways that make sense for families who can't afford childcare, who don't have transportation, who don't have paid leave and are more likely to be working evening jobs, who experience schools as hostile. 
It's not mean-spirited usually. It's very well-intended--enthusiastic, even. Most see themselves as real advocates. [I will add here that most want to be strong advocates. This is precisely why I prefer to do most of my equity work in schools, because I can start with that assumption.] So my approach is having them look through a different window, from a different angle, incorporating a more structural view so that they can imagine more sensible solutions. The mess is the more deeply embedded stereotypes (which Payne has confirmed for them) and the practices and policies and initiatives developed through those stereotypes. 

Then I'm coming in and saying, "Oops--this isn't going to work unless we're willing to change the way we think about poverty." And despite what people might assume, my experience has been that, as long as I engage educators in a respectful process of digging through the muck--a process that does not blame educators, a process that wraps back around to classroom practice eventually--I get very, very little resistance. 

And I don't candy-coat. I say up-front, "If you believe that people in poverty are in poverty because people in poverty are deficient, you cannot be an effective educator for low-income students." That's my first message. My second message is that this is 90% ideological, and part of our shift has to be [moving away from] thinking that every educational problem is 90% practical.
A little later in this thread, another participant interjected a bit of deficit ideology, suggesting that the primary issue is whether parents value education. This is the popular view, the fall-back view, the impulsive view, in my experience. It's exactly what deficit ideology socializes us to do: to immediately hone in on what must be wrong in marginalized families. This is the Ruby Payne view and can be the result of the Eric Jensen view if that view is not couched carefully in a deeper understanding of poverty than he demonstrates in the quote at the very top of the thread. 

I responded:
The issue is not who values education. Virtually everybody values education, and we have research going back to the mid-70s that makes that very clear. The issue is who has access to equitable educational opportunity. [This is an issue that Payne ignores completely and that Jensen largely ignores.] And this is what I've been saying about ideology, why it's so important. If I start by believing that poverty is actually a symptom of deficiencies in people or communities [which is Payne's "culture of poverty" view and could be how Jensen is interpreted if it's not couched in a more structural understanding], I am very likely to interpret the symptoms of unequal opportunity--low-income parents showing up to school-based opportunities for family engagement at lower rates than their wealthier peers, for example--as evidence supporting my deficit view. And it's wrong. In every single way it's wrong. 

Sure there are individual people who might not value education in whatever way, but those people are not [according to 45 years of research] concentrated in low-income communities (or in communities of color, which also is a common assumption). This works in other ways, too. A low-income student consistently doesn't do her homework. How do I interpret it? A low-income student falls asleep in class. How do I interpret it? Do I consider that they might not have computers or access to a library? Do I consider they are more likely to be caring for younger siblings? Do I consider they are more likely to be working [even if they are underage] to help support the family? Do I consider they might be homeless or have had the lights cut off? If I have the deficit view, I'm not likely even to be curious about these things. [If I have a narrow "brain research" view, do I just attribute this to how the brain is affected by poverty and try to mitigate those effects? Do I think to reconsider school policy and practice with equity in mind or just with poverty in mind?]

If I have the structural view, even though I might not be able to change these [conditions] for the student, I at least will not start with the assumption that the student is irresponsible and that the parents don't value education. I won't respond in a way that further alienates my most marginalized students. And I can come up with strategies that at least take the reality of the situation into account rather than strategies that begin with faulty assumptions. Ideology = practicality.
A few new thoughts to pull all of this together.

First, the fact that so many educators feel drawn to and even defensive of Ruby Payne's framework is, itself, evidence of the fact that even among the equity advocates in education today we are facing a problem that is most immediately ideological and only secondarily practical. It's important to remember that her framework is built on a set of assumptions that comes from the culture of poverty hypothesis introduced in the 1950s by Oscar Lewis and rejected by the early 1970s after a slew of social scientists more or less concluded that there was no evidence that low-income people shared a predictable, common set of values and behaviors. It should be remembered, as well, that reviews of her work have found dozens and dozens of factual errors. No math teacher would endorse a math textbook that insisted that 3 + 5 = 12. No teacher should endorse a book about poverty that equally wrongfully attributes stereotyped values to people in poverty when we have decades of research that demonstrate that some of those stereotypes [such as a penchant for substance abuse] actually are truer of wealthy people than they are of people in poverty. 

Secondly, I do believe there is value to incorporating brain research into a more robust understanding of poverty and learning. However, part of that robust understanding--one that Jensen either does not have or is not comfortable incorporating into his work--must be big-level structural and contextual awareness. Even if we, as individual educators, are not able to transform those big-level inequities, or even if we don't see it as part of our individual spheres of influence, even the smallest strategy or initiative for creating a more equitable learning environment should be based on a deep understanding of poverty and how it impacts students. Otherwise, we end up with strategies that are designed to fix nonexistent problems or that could even cause more alienation, as in attempts to increase family involvement by trying to convince people who already care deeply about their children's education that they should start caring about their children's education.

Thirdly, despite the fact that people always warn me that teachers do not want to talk about these more structural things or, worse, that they're incapable of doing so, my experience has been that a vast majority of teachers are thrilled to have access to any conversation that will help them work more effectively with their most marginalized students. The trick is to ensure, in doing so, that we're not facilitating a blame game between teachers and low-income families, but instead disrupting that blame game. 

Finally--and this is one of those messages that some people find difficult to digest initially--experience has taught me that our biggest barrier when it comes to us as educators helping to create the change required to ensure more equitable educational opportunity for low-income students is the way that we, in education, tend to see problems as fundamentally practical, solvable with the next best instructional framework or bit of curricula or assessment paradigm. The trouble is that we tend to implement these strategies and initiatives without changing the biased ideologies that have helped sustain the problems we're trying to solve. The first ideological shift is from a deficit view (or a grit view, which is a kind of deficit view) to a structural view. Again, even if I, as an individual educator, can't change the structural stuff, I will not be the most effective educator I can be for low-income students if I don't understand the realities they're facing and how those realities are impacting the structure and practice of education. Looking through the lens of race, a racially biased teacher, however well-intentioned, is not going to be more effective as a teacher if she incorporates a few practical strategies for helping students of color learn unless she also is willing to become more racially just in her own thinking. Ideology, beliefs, world view drive every aspect of practice.

Finally, finally, finally, I know some people are going to respond, "So, what do we do?" (This is the first sign of (1) somebody who wants to sidestep the ideological shift or (2)  somebody who, like many teachers, feels a sense of urgency to do something right now because she has a large group of young people sitting in front of her and doesn't have the luxury to wait until the ideological revolution sets in.) So, I'll say, first of all, that the most practical shift is the ideological shift, because it drives the practical shifts. Secondly, I'll point you to this article, in which I talk about some instructional strategies that are grounded in research. In my book, Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty, I include three chapters stepping through research-based strategies. Still, we should keep in mind that David Berliner is exactly right: the only real path toward the elimination of class-based educational outcome disparities is the elimination of poverty. I know that sounds big and impossible. But it's the reality and pretending that it's not the reality feeds the deficit view that is pointed today at both low-income families and teachers. 

So I say this not to discourage us, as educators, from doing what we can do in our classrooms and schools, but instead as a reminder that even what we do in our classrooms and schools must be informed by the larger realities of poverty. In the end, those practical strategies mean nary a whit if we are not committed to the bigger work--at least the bigger work within our own spheres of influence. I believe a vast majority of teachers and school administrators are committed to that bigger work. That's what I have seen in my work with schools. 

The challenge is finding the most efficient, informed path to take us there. In my view, Payne takes us in the opposite direction. Jensen can be part of taking us in the right direction if supported by a more structural view. Our challenge is to hold ourselves accountable for striving toward the deeper understandings, even when those understandings--especially when those understandings--toss us into cognitive dissonance and intimidate us with their complexities.


Paul C. Gorski is the Founder of EdChange and an Associate Professor of Integrative Studies at George Mason University where he teaches in the Social Justice and Human Rights programs. For more of his writing visit the EdChange.org. For free resources on educational equity visit EdChange.org/multicultural. To contact Paul directly email him at gorski@edchange.org.