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At-Risk, Teaching

Pobrecito Syndrome

This afternoon, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Pedro Noguera speak at the 2010 RAPSA (Reaching At-Promise Student Association) conference. Dr. Noguera addressed concerns about the current efforts to “reform” education and emphasized the importance of focusing on the needs of the “whole child.”.

One obstacle that at-risk students encounter in their quest for academic achievement was identified by Dr. Noguera as the “pobrecito syndrome.” This can best be described as the low expectations that many teachers, administrators and schools have for students who face challenging circumstances (i.e. low socio-economic status). During his discussion, Dr. Noguera referenced a phrase by George W. Bush to desribe the damage done by this mentality: “the soft bigotry of low expectations”- indicating how this attitude exacerbates the achievement gap.

Of course, students success requires more than simply setting the bar high. With high expectations comes the responsibility of providing the support necessary for students to achieve at a high level. This combination (high expectations and individualized support) is critical if at-risk students are going to overcome life obstacles.

In many ways, this discussion relates to my previous post – Beyond the Blame Game. Don’t make excuses, be empathetic, but don’t subscribe to “pobrecito syndrome.”

“Kids who think they are going somewhere behave differently. Than kids who believe they are going nowhere.”
~ Pedro Noguera


About azjd

Junior high principal by day, aspiring difference maker, and Jedi in my own mind. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.



  1. Pingback: Fostering Resilience: Convincing ALL Kids They Have a Future « Molehills out of Mountains - October 21, 2010

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Jeff Delp

Junior high principal by day, sports enthusiast, technology fanatic and jedi in my own mind. Striving to be a difference maker!
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