Ruby K. Payne has been bilking tax-payers, school districts, as well as their administrators and educators for over ten years with little resistance. Payne is the founder and CEO of aha! Process Inc., where she publishes her own work: making academic scrutiny of her ideas and theories impossible. Payne will be speaking in
If Ruby Payne is so bad, then how has she been able to get away with it for so long? An education professor from
Payne has reached hundreds of thousands of educators across the country “and even in
Payne charges between $60 and $300 per individual registrant. Missoula County Public Schools is paying $60 per person. The
In two days time, I will be attending Payne’s conference. I was invited by my school district along with two busloads of fellow teachers from
Having now read her book, I don’t know what is more disconcerting: 1) that Payne appears to have few detractors which means—for the near future at least—she will continue to exert her damaging influence on public education; or 2) that so many educators have failed to demonstrate the ability to detect the blatant racism, classism, and assimilationism she is being allowed to pontificate. It is a sad state of affairs either way. The academic community must be alerted to her demagoguery and the snake-charmer’s appeal her one-size-fits-all answers profess.
Should Payne be allowed to be heard? Absolutely. If we don’t believe in freedom of speech for those we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. However, Payne’s work has not been exposed to the rigors of true academia. Therefore, she should be judged by peers and professionals, before school districts imprudently dump tax-payer’s money into her coffers. A Framework for Understanding Poverty is overtly emotional and anecdotal making it extremely alluring and seductive to teachers looking for magical solutions to the overwhelming issue of poverty. However, instead of addressing the causes of poverty, she misdirects readers to understand the effects of poverty to be understood as causes. Instead of questioning how the richest nation in the world could have such abject and deplorable scenarios of poverty, she stereotypes poverty with anecdotal scenarios and offers as a solution that educators teach children how to think, act and aspire to be middle class. Give them kids some bootstraps to start pulling themselves up by!
Why should anyone aspire to transcend to the next class level if one had previously experienced that class as oppressive? Should it be a child’s goal to obtain the money and power to oppress those below them? Are we supposed to inspire kids by explaining to them that if they make it to our level they will no longer be on the bottom and then they can have someone else dig their ditches, or pick their fruit? Where is the debate about the legitimacy of maintaining a system that allows for poverty and oppression? Are we to teach kids that poverty is inevitable and that nothing can be done to distribute the “American Dream” equitably? Payne’s attempt to abstract “the hidden rules” of the class system from the unimaginably complex “bigger picture” of economics, society, culture, and politics for observation intentionally ignores our “me-first” society’s biggest dilemma: the equitable distribution of wealth. Instead of offering a solution to poverty, Payne is helping to maintain it. The poor need money, food, housing, health care, and education, not “hidden rules.”
- To read the ONLY TWO scholarly critiques available (please do your own Internet searches and let me know if any other school’s of education are on to her) on Ruby Payne follow these links:
educators should also be alerted to a recent Missoulian article expressing contentions that the UM Native American Studies department has with Payne’s work. Montana