Poverty is NOT a Learning Disability – Howard, Dresser, and Dunklee

poverty is not a learning disabilityI read Poverty is NOT  a Learning Disability: Equalizing Opportunities for Low SES Students as part of a project on researching best practices for teaching low SES (socio-economic status) students. The focus of the book was on elementary-aged students who live in poverty, but I wish to focus on secondary children (who I will be eventually teaching), so not everything was applicable. However, many of the pieces of advice for teachers of young students of low SES can be applied secondary students as well.

This book has some valuable information about what teachers can do and also the importance of the teachers, which is always good to hear. It emphasizes that students with low SES are often categorizes as LD (learning disabled) because they are not school-ready or typically-developing because of their situations. The authors argue that so many low SES students wind up in special education because teachers don’t know any better/don’t know how to teach them. This book describes reasons why students may be behind due to their low SES and how to reach them, which includes keeping them out of special education unless they really, truly need it.

The section on reaching out to parents was also wonderful. In my teaching preparation program, we are not taught how to communicate and engage parents, so this information was enlightening. Like most of this book, the advice was applicable to teachers in any and all situations, not just ones who teach in high-poverty, urban areas.

The second half of this book was focused more on advice to principals. While I skimmed these last chapters, I did gain a greater respect for principals as a whole.

Because I am writing an in-depth research paper about this topic that will include the most important aspects of this book, I will publish the paper on this blog rather than summarize what I took from this book. You can find that paper here.


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