eJournal Woodring College of Education Western Washington University eJournal

Western Washington University

ISSN 1935-7699
Journal of Educational Controversy

The Hidden Dimensions of Poverty: Rethinking Poverty and Education


The Hidden Dimensions of Poverty: Rethinking Poverty and Education
Lorraine Kasprisin

Editor: Examining the seemingly intractable issues of poverty requires imagination, innovation, and creative efforts and considerable courage in the face of entrenched beliefs and structures.  In looking at the hidden dimensions of poverty and the implications for rethinking poverty and education, the editors of the journal were well aware that whole new ways of thinking were required to attack the problems systemically and globally.  One person who has opened new vistas for thinking about this issue has been Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.  We are dedicating this issue to Dr. Yunus who has graciously written a prologue for the issue.

Figure 1: Dr. Muhammad Yunus accepts the invitation
from Editor Lorraine Kasprisin at the reception of the
Global State of Washington Initiative in Seattle in 2007.

Prologue to Rethinking Poverty
Muhammad Yunus
2006 Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize

Excerpt from Nobel Peace Prize citation

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006, divided into two equal parts, to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one of these means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights. Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries. Loans to poor people without any financial security had appeared to be an impossible idea. From modest beginnings three decades ago, Yunus has, first and foremost through Grameen Bank, developed micro-credit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty. Grameen Bank has been a source of ideas and models for the many institutions in the field of micro-credit that have sprung up around the world. Every single individual on Earth has both the potential and the right to live a decent life. Across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development.


In an earlier issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy, we published an article critical of the Ruby Payne phenomena sweeping workshops for teachers, social workers, and human service providers across the country. Our author cautioned readers about the return of language that conceptualizes issues like poverty in a deficit mode, once again seeing the issue as a problem with the individual rather than a set of systemic problems found in the larger social order. We invite authors to reexamine our thinking about the intractable issues associated with poverty in this country. How should teachers and other human service providers think about issues of poverty? What are the advantages and disadvantages in conceptualizing the problem one way or another? What do students who are preparing to become teachers or human service providers need to know and understand about the lives of their students and clients? What should we be teaching them? We welcome articles that provide historical perspectives, social and political analyses, views on the economics of poverty, examination of research, and conceptual and philosophical analyses. We are also seeking the views of classroom teachers and the accounts of their experiences.



Rethinking Social Justice Issues Within an Eco-Justice Conceptual and Moral Framework
Professor Emeritus, Portland State University
Courtesy Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Oregon

Poverty's Multiple Dimensions
Kay Ann Taylor
Kansas State University

Pathologizing Poverty: Structural Forces Versus Personal Deficit Theories in the Feminization of Poverty
Nandini Gunewardena
University of California at Los Angeles  

YEE P’AY GYAH MAW TAME AIM: The Kiowa Clemente Course in the Humanities and Two Perspectives on Poverty
Rachel C. Jackson
of Oklahoma and the Meredith Indigenous Humanities Center 

Problematizing Payne and Understanding Poverty: An Analysis with Data from the 2000 Census
Jennifer C. Ng, University of Kansas
John L. Rury, University of Kansas 

Cross-Cultural Communication: Implications for Social Work Practice and A Departure from Payne
Venus Evans-Winters, Illinois State University
Bevin Cowie, Illinois Wesleyan University 

Poverty and Class – Discussing the Un-Discussible
John Korsmo

Washington University

Examining Images of Family in Commercial Reading Programs
Judith Dunkerly and Frank Serafini
of Nevada, Las Vegas


Book Cover

A Framework for Understanding Poverty
By Ruby K. Payne
Reviewed by Michael Reinke, Western Washington University

Book Cover

An African Centered Response to Ruby Payne’s Poverty Theory
By Jawanza Kunjufu
Reviewed by Andrew Griffin, Retired Assistant Superintendent
Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction



See the REJOINDERS SECTION to read reactions to the articles in this issue. 

See our BLOG to enter into a conversation with our authors and other readers. 

See the “TALKING WITH THE AUTHORSVIDEO SERIES for videotaped interviews with some of the authors.

Watch this space for our forthcoming video from the 11th Annual Educational Law and Social Justice Forum on the theme of this issue, "The Hidden Faces of Poverty," to take place in April 2009.