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The Poverty Problem

The Poverty Problem
How Education Can Promote Resilience and Counter Poverty’s Impact on Brain Development and Functioning

January 2021 | 296 pages | Corwin
Improve outcomes for students in poverty by understanding their developing brains

Economic hardship is changing our students’ brain structures at a genetic level, producing psychological, behavioral, and cognitive issues that dramatically impact learning, behavior, physical health, and emotional stability. But there is hope. 

This groundbreaking book by one of the nation’s top experts in brain science and resilience offers solutions that will change minds, attitudes, and behaviors. Learn about how problems develop between people of different races, how the brain develops in persistent poverty, and how it might react to solutions. Inside, you will find real-life applications on topics including:

? The lack of culturally competent instruction and its impact on students of color
? Poverty's effect on language development and how it can be positively influenced
? The importance of reading
? How to counteract the effects of the widespread stress in lower SES environments

Children make up 23% of the U.S. population and account for almost 33% of those living in poverty, making the education system our most distressed institution. In The Poverty Problem, you’ll learn how to increase students’ perseverance and confidence and positively impact outcomes by arming yourself with research-based instructional strategies that are inspiring, realistic, and proven to work.
Introduction: The Invisible Line
Chapter 1: The New Deal—The Old Way
Chapter 2: More Than a Lapse in Judgment
Chapter 3: Born Behind the Eight Ball
Chapter 4: Speechless
Chapter 5: You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
Chapter 6: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak No Evil
Chapter 7: Poverty Is a Story of Risk
Chapter 8: Principles of Good Instruction for Students from Low SES
Chapter 9: The Only Academic Protective Factor
Chapter 10: Promoting Resiliency
Appendix A - Model Lesson: Goal Setting
Appendix B - Model Lesson: Promoting Hope and Expectation
Appendix C - Model Lesson: Having a Good Sense of Humor

"In The Poverty Problem, Horacio Sanchez sounds an alarm and sends out a call to action. He asks educators to roll up their sleeves and move beyond merely understanding the problem of poverty to taking the lead in creating, implementing, and applying strategies to counter the negative impact poverty has on students’ education.


The author helps educators understand that the brain is changing and adjusting due to poverty. This change has a direct negative impact on student learning and behavior. Adverse consequences include issues with language development, resiliency, and stress-related actions. He illustrates how implicit bias associated with poverty and people of color unfairly knits the two together and exacerbates the challenges these students face. Poverty is a major factor impeding the academic progress of students experiencing it. As the author provides a look back into the history of  how America came to “measure” poverty, he shows that it is a force continuing to negatively influence the overall academic achievement landscape in this country. Educators would be wise to keep this book at their fingertips.



Paula Y. Daniels, Director, Office of Educational Supports
Michigan Department of Education, Lansing

"This book is long overdue. Educators at every level will benefit by understanding children, human development, and the influence of poverty and race. Moreover, this book includes well-informed strategies to help students focus and learn to read. I am hopeful that preservice education and Departments of Education around the country will ensure that educational programs include the information and strategies presented in The Poverty Problem." 

Gerald Zahorchak, D.Ed, Former Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, Education Division Chair
University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

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ISBN: 9781071842928

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