In this article, R. W. Connell reexamines the schooling of children in poverty in several industrial countries. He suggests that major rethinking is due that draws on two assets that have not been considered by policymakers in the past: the accumulated practical experience of teachers and parents with compensatory programs, and a much more sophisticated sociology of education. Connell uses these assets to question the social and educational assumptions behind the general design of compensatory programs, to propose an alternative way of thinking about children in poverty that is drawn from current practice and social research, and to explore some larger questions about the strategy of reform this rethinking implies. He goes on to demonstrate that compensatory programs may even reinforce the patterns that produce inequality, since they function within existing institutions that force children to compete although the resources on which they can draw are unequal. At the core of this process, according to Connell, is the hegemonic curriculum and control over teachers' work. He argues that changing the industrial conditions of teachers' work is central to addressing issues of poverty and education because the teachers are the most strategically placed workers to affect the relationship between poor children and schools, and because teachers of the poor have a capacity for strategic thinking about designing reform strategies that has been largely overlooked. Connell concludes by grounding his discussion in the larger realization that targeted programs are unlikely to have a major impact unless they are part of a broader agenda for social justice.

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