Deficit Thinking Paradigm

School failure among many K–12 students of color in the United States is widespread and intractable. Many Latina/o/s and African American students experience, for example, low reading achievement and high dropout rates. A major explanation for such school failure is that these students of color, especially those from a low-socioeconomic status (SES), are themselves the cause of their academic shortcomings. Also, the culture and families of these struggling students are often implicated in their school failure. The basis of this attribution lies in the construct of deficit thinking, an endogenous paradigm founded on race and class bias. Deficit thinking blames the victim for school failure, instead of examining structural factors, such as segregation and inequities in school financing, that prevent low-SES students of color from ...

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