Saturday, April 13, 2002

Cincinnati educators discuss effects of poverty in schools




By Sarah Buehrle
Enquirer contributor

        SPRINGDALE — Ruby K. Payne, in the education field since 1972 and author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty, spoke Friday to nearly 400 Southwest Ohio educators about the effects of poverty on student learning.

        “There are children who are homeless and their teachers don't even know it,” said Cathy Hamilton, director of Ohio Principals' Center, which brought Ms. Payne to Cincinnati.

        Identifying the hidden issues of poverty can prevent students from acting out in class and help them achieve more, according to Ms. Payne. She presented anecdotal evidence with measures teachers can apply in the classroom.

        Children from generationally, rather than situationally, poor families have strong survival instincts, according to Ms. Payne, and personally strong people are respected. She recommends against confronting a child in front of peers, because the student is likely to talk back to gain peer respect.

        “Every situation she's described so far, we have kids in that situation,” said Gary Tyler, Princeton Schools District's Sharonville Elementary principal.

        Mr. Tyler's building next year will be classified as Title One, a school in which 35 percent or more of the students receive free or reduced-price lunches.

        More than 60 percent of students in Cincinnati Public Schools last year were impoverished, as measured by families who qualify for the federal program.

        Representatives from Brown and Clermont County schools and the Lakota Local School District attended, but one of the most heavily represented schools at the $125-a-head lecture was CPS' Losantiville School. with six educators present.

        “We want to improve the overall culture in our school,” said Carole Cutter-Hawkins, Losantiville School principal. “You have to deal with a child holistically and be ready to deal with their individual issues.”

        To learn more about Ruby Payne, or her book, visit her web site.
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