Dismantling Contemporary Deficit Thinking: Educational Thought and Practice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Dismantling Contemporary Deficit Thinking

Educational Thought and Practice, 1st Edition

By Richard R. Valencia


228 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780415877107
pub: 2010-04-06
Hardback: 9780415877091
pub: 2010-04-06
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203853214
pub: 2010-09-13
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Deficit thinking is a pseudoscience founded on racial and class bias. It "blames the victim" for school failure instead of examining how schools are structured to prevent poor students and students of color from learning. Dismantling Contemporary Deficit Thinking provides comprehensive critiques and anti-deficit thinking alternatives to this oppressive theory by framing the linkages between prevailing theoretical perspectives and contemporary practices within the complex historical development of deficit thinking.

Dismantling Contemporary Deficit Thinking examines the ongoing social construction of deficit thinking in three aspects of current discourse – the genetic pathology model, the culture of poverty model, and the "at-risk" model in which poor students, students of color, and their families are pathologized and marginalized. Richard R. Valencia challenges these three contemporary components of the deficit thinking theory by providing incisive critiques and discussing competing explanations for the pervasive school failure of many students in the nation’s public schools. Valencia also discusses a number of proactive, anti-deficit thinking suggestions from the fields of teacher education, educational leadership, and educational ethnography that are intended to provide a more equitable and democratic schooling for all students.


Winner of the 2011 AERA Outstanding Book Award

Winner of the 2011 Critics Choice Book Award of the American Educational Studies Association

Table of Contents

  1. The Construct of Deficit Thinking
  2. Neohereditarianism: Pseudoscientific Explanations for Racial Differences in Intelligence
  3. Ruby Payne’s Mindsets of Poverty, Middle Class, and Wealth: A Resurrection of the Culture of Poverty Concept
  4. At-Risk Students or At-Risk Schools?
  5. Deconstructing Deficit Thinking: Practical Solutions for Teacher Educators, Educational Leaders, and Educational Ethnographers
  6. Conclusion: (A) The Bankruptcy of the Standards-Based School Reform Movement; (B) Towards the Construction of Meaningful School Reform: Democratic Education

About the Author

Richard R. Valencia is Professor of Educational Psychology and Faculty Associate of the Center for Mexican American Studies at The University of Texas, Austin.

About the Series

The Critical Educator

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General