structural ideology > deficit ideology

With this in mind, my purpose is to argue that when it comes to issues surrounding poverty and economic justice the preparation of teachers must be first and foremost an ideological endeavour, focused on adjusting fundamental understandings not only about educational outcome disparities but also about poverty itself. I will argue that it is only through the cultivation of what I call a structural ideology of poverty and economic justice that teachers become equity literate (Gorski 2013), capable of imagining the sorts of solutions that pose a genuine threat to the existence of class inequity in their classrooms and schools.

Source: Poverty and the ideological imperative: a call to unhook from deficit and grit ideology and to strive for structural ideology in teacher education

The Direct Confrontation Principle: There is no path to equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with inequity. There is no path to racial equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism. “Equity” approaches that fail to directly confront inequity play a significant role in sustaining inequity.

The “Poverty of Culture” Principle: Inequities are primarily power and privilege problems, not primarily cultural problems. Equity requires power and privilege solutions, not just cultural solutions. Frameworks that attend to diversity purely in vague cultural terms, like the “culture of poverty,” are no threat to inequity.

The Prioritization Principle: Each policy and practice decision should be examined through the question, “How will this impact the most marginalized members of our community?” Equity is about prioritizing their interests.

The “Fix Injustice, Not Kids” Principle: Educational outcome disparities are not the result of deficiencies in marginalized communities’ cultures, mindsets, or grittiness, but rather of inequities. Equity initiatives focus, not on fixing marginalized people, but on fixing the conditions that marginalize people.

Basic Principles for Equity Literacy

In the U.S., we have become so accepting of the fact that poverty is not a symptom of a grossly unequal economy, or the result of numerous systemic failures, or the product of years of trickle-down economics, but instead, that the only thing standing between a poor person and the life of their dreams is their own decisions, their own choices, and their own failures.

If You’ve Never Lived In Poverty, Stop Telling Poor People What To Do

26 thoughts on “structural ideology > deficit ideology

  1. “Live simply that others may simply live.” Early/mid-1970s there was tons of done on connecting the public with “DevEd” i.e. development education. Paradigmatic: a campaign to ensure that those who farmed cocoa and coffee got at least living wage. Significantly: 30+yrs later the situation is not substantially better.

    p.s. Globally, raising people up out of poverty? Reports on this are misleading; the data makes clear that what has happened is that tens and even hundreds of millions who had been living in conditions of starvation (i.e. lacking basics such as drinking water) had been raised up … into conditions just slightly better than malnutrition. So really, still in poverty that had to be called abject.

    1. p.s. 2 projects that died immediately (“infant mortality”>)
      1) “Green Future Foundation” (1995):
      2) With animated data:

      As I encountered in the 70s; practically nobody goes further than what I call “fortune cookie wisdom”, or even just “bumper sticker slogans”. Flashes of interested followed by nothing material.


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