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date: 10 December 2019

Summary and Keywords

A great deal of scholarship informs the idea that specific teacher preparation is required for working in high-poverty schools. Many teacher-education programs do not focus exclusively on poverty. However, a growing body of research emphasizes how crucial it is that teachers understand the backgrounds and communities in which young people and their families live, especially if they are to teach equitably, without bias, and with a critical understanding of historical educational disadvantage. Research on teacher education for high-poverty schools is largely associated with social-justice education and premised on two key assumptions. The first is that teachers do make a difference and should be encouraged to see themselves as agents of change. The second is that without nuanced knowledge of poverty and disadvantage, and especially its intersection with race, teachers are prepared as though all students and all communities have equal social advantage. Through targeted teacher education, social justice teachers aquire the knowledge, skills and attributes to understand what they can and cannot do. Teachers with strong communities of practice and agency can resist the idea that they can eradicate poverty on their own, but can enact teaching in ways that are equitable and respectful, culturally responsive and safe. It is increasingly possible to observe how debates propose or challenge how preservice teachers should learn about high-poverty contexts. There are also numerous models, globally, of what works in preparing teachers for high-poverty schools; however, providing evidence or proving how specialized teacher preparation affects the educational outcomes of high-poverty students is difficult.

Keywords: teacher education, poverty, disadvantage, urban education, social justice

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