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Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap
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Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  245 ratings  ·  34 reviews
The author draws from decades of research to deconstruct popular myths, misconceptions, and educational practices that undercut the achievement of low-income students. He carefully describes the challenges that students in poverty face and the resiliencies they and their families draw upon. Most importantly, this book provides specific, evidence-based strategies for ...more
Paperback, 202 pages
Published August 4th 2013 by Teachers College Press
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"...low income people face innumerable inequities in and out of schools. These inequities regarding access to everything from adequately funded schools to playgrounds to prenatal care have nothing to do with poor people's cultures and everything to do with what Jonathan Kozol called the 'savage inequalities' of schools and society. We, as a society, give low-income youths less access to educational opportunity, healthcare, nutrition, and other goods, and then blame the outcomes of these ...more
Jennifer Mangler
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: profdev, education
The thing I liked most about this book is that it constantly forced me to reflect on my own beliefs and actions and it didn't let me off the hook because I have good intentions. My PLN is reading about and discussing poverty this quarter, and I wanted to get a different take on it. Teachers looking for a lot of strategies or "things to do" might not be happy with this book, but I think that's exactly why they need to read it. Often we adopt a strategy without really examining its impact. We look ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: prof-dev
Informative and well-written.
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I appreciated how this book made me continually reflect about what equity really means in education. It helped me think deeply about some of my own stereotypes with poverty and culture and what I can do about it.

This line, found on page 143, is what I want to remember about this book: "Our instruction and how we interact with students and families are within our immediate spheres of influence."
Joe Totterdell
Education is the great equalizer. That’s what I heard growing up, the son of a mother from poor Appalachian stock and a father from middle class Detroit. If you work hard, do well in school, and follow the rules, you can be anything you want to be. It’s a fantastic idea. How remarkable it would be if only it were true.”

In Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap, Paul C. Gorski, the founder of EdChange and an associate professor of integrative
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education-books
Gorski reminds readers that there is no "culture of poverty"--that children and families continue to fall victim to false assumptions based on their socioeconomic status. The book not only exposes us to basics of economics that all teachers should understand, but also includes research on schools and programs that are having positive impacts on students learning within, and pushing through, opportunity gaps. Great read for teachers and activists, easy to understand, and timely. Gorski's voice is ...more
Jeanie Phillips
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Check out a podcast conversation about this book here:

Insightful, well researched, and important! This is crucial reading for all educators.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
In this culmination of four decades' research, Gorski paints a thorough picture of the disparities faced by working-class students in America's schools. Rather than focusing on "culture of poverty" and character deficit theories, the author takes a materialist approach in explaining the "achievement gap" between high- and low-income students. Combining gentle rhetoric with hard data, Gorski dispels the popular American myth of the proletariat as a lazy, drunken, violent mob which does not value ...more
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gorski's work is important, careful, and detailed. This book could have used more specific pedagogical examples, but really, his approach is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. As an academic who is economically marginalized hoping to transform the classroom students who are economically marginalized, I appreciate the way this book brings attention to the various structures that limits academic excellence. I also like the way it flies in the face of the ways Grit theory and Mindset have been ...more
Bailey Frederking
This book opens up your eyes to think about poverty from a perspective that works against the stereotypes and narratives that are generally in place. I find this read imperative for all teachers because whether you teach in an affluent area or a more impoverished area, poverty will always affect some of our students. We must be invested in the work of this book and how to better support our students.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lots of important information about what Gorski rightly calls the opportunity gaps in education between poor students and their economically more advantaged peers, challenges to teachers to check our misconceptions, and many useful strategies to make things more equitable in our classrooms, even if we can’t fix all of the issues outside them. He focuses on K-12, but I found much to use in my community college classrooms.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I appreciated that the book wasn't written just for teachers, but for anyone who interacts with youth from poverty. As a speech language pathologist and church youth leader, it was nice to feel included in the target demographic of the book!
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very informative and easy to read. I think everyone can benefit from reading this book; not just teachers and administrators.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work-reads
Yes! I wish I had been required to read this during my university years. Gorski does a great job of breaking his thoughts down into meaningful chunks and offers accessible ideas. Would recommend.
This is a book every teacher should read and commit to memory.

10 gold stars out of 10
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is very challenging, informative and practical. Lots of useful strategies for changing ourselves, our schools and our world.
Chloe Glynn
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is a literature review of poverty and education research in America. It is easy to read and critically important background information. The "strategies" appear in only one chapter and are more good ideas than ready-to-implement techniques for the classroom. He is a researcher and teacher of teachers, not working through the conditions on the ground.
Loriann Chiarito
Information on Poverty

A great read for teachers feeling defeated in low income areas/title one schools. The book gives many different strategies that educators or anyone in the community who are willing to help out can utilize to help students in poverty.
Jonna Higgins-Freese
Gorski points out that the "achievement gap" is actually an opportunity gap, an artifact of the effects of systemic poverty. He points out specific pedagogical ways to address this, and also advocates working with rather than on families in poverty.

He points out that research shows that it's best to teach high level conceptual and reasoning skills to students in poverty, versus low-level math and literacy skills -- what would be useful to me, as a parent, is to understand what each looks like,
Laura LeAnn
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gorski provides a detailed and thorough analysis of the intersectionality of poverty and education. While many teachers and others in the US would argue that education is the "great equalizer," Gorski argues that this is not the case at all simply because students living in poverty attend schools that are not equal to those attended by their wealthier counterparts. He also effectively argues that there is no such thing as a "culture of poverty" because you can not have a culture based solely on ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Gorski starts out with an eye-opening and transformative review of the inequities inherent in our society that lead to and are replicated by public schools as they currently operate. It challenged my ideas about the so-called "culture of poverty" and how to best help students raised in poverty. This was the strength of the book. The strategic portion of the book, on the other hand, was a bit disappointing. Gorski was dismissive of direct instruction, with really very little evidence to back up ...more
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
I can't say this book will provide a teacher with much in regards to new ideas on how to reach and teach students in poverty. The majority of this book is about living in poverty and ideals for how a world without poverty would be a more just and equitable place. I found several instances where the author debunked stereotypes only to give statistics that supported the same stereotype. I will continue to see all people as individuals and do what I can within my classroom world. Unless you really ...more
Barb Simpson
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for anyone working with kids in public school systems. American education keeps getting labeled as ineffective while the impact of poverty on our system is ignored. This book points out the flaws in our current practices, and has real strategies that systems need to consider when supporting students from poverty. Really makes you think! And is very readable, not too "textbook" like. Read this book.
Ron Willoughby
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book isn't just for educators and parents of students. This book is for anyone interested in making a difference in our school systems and communities. The chapter where Gorski explodes the myths and stereotypes of 'poor people' and what they value is worth the price of admission. Thoroughly researched and clearly articulated, this book should be read in conjunction with 'Educating All God's Children.'
Kim Bontempo
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you are an educator and haven't read this book, get to it. This book should be handed out instead of those cheesy books that teachers are handed on their first days. Better yet, read it before you begin teaching!
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, education
Very well done, an absolute must read for new and veteran teachers. Any person who works with children will appreciate and understand the marvel that is this book. The bar for equity literacy.
Danielle Beeth
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Redundant, information overload, tried too hard to inspire change without practical direction which ended up pretty bleeding-heart, not a very helpful read
Jul 14, 2016 rated it liked it
A book all teachers should read who are working with children in poverty. It really made me assess my idea of working with children and families in poverty.
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book and a must read for anyone working in education policy, especially anyone who has a silver bullet.
Katy Wineke
Apr 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Gorski has a lot of great things to say, but I would have liked to have seen more pages dedicated to strategies.
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“We cannot understand the relationship between poverty and education without understanding the biases and inequities experienced by people in poverty.” 1 likes
“Growing up in poverty, I learned some hard lessons about life. These lessons were taught to me not by my family but rather by system “helpers.” I learned that being poor offended people. I learned people had rage and anger toward me and others like me. I learned that people thought being poor equated to lacking intelligence, creativity, motivation and desire. I learned that people felt sorry for me. In the process, I also learned to be weary (and wary) of helpers. (p. 46)” 1 likes
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