Among the many researchers I personally admire is Dr. Pedro Noguera. Dr. Noguera is a distinguished Professor of Education and Informational Sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Author of 11 books and over 200 articles, Dr. Noguera is a strong proponent of balancing academic and psychosocial needs to decrease the opportunity gap, especially among minority students.
Dr. Noguera’s passion for assisting students in poverty stems from his own background. A child of Caribbean immigrants, his parents pushed education and he, although discouraged by school officials, applied and was granted admission to Brown University, an Ivy League institution. He later earned his doctorate in Sociology and worked at highly esteemed universities such as Harvard before joining UCLA.
According to Dr. Noguera, poverty is not just low household income. Often, poverty has a direct correlation with interpersonal violence and poorer health. Noguera explains that “poverty is not a learning disability.” It is our dismissal of the social needs of children in poverty settings that causes their learning to falter. Dr. Noguera identifies several additional impediments for the success of high poverty students including poorly paid teachers, less rigorous coursework/course options, and academic tracking.
Dr. Noguera offers a variety of solutions for assisting high poverty students succeed academically. These solutions include developing community schools with after-school and parent education programs. He encourages rigorous, problem-focused curricula; interesting and culturally relevant learning experiences; active engagement; and teaching children to appropriately balance grit and “help-seeking behavior.” He also emphasizes the importance of educators creating relationships with students, holding students to high expectations, getting kids involved in extra curricular activities, and building their own and each other’s professional capacity. He advocates for school leaders to be in classrooms, providing teachers with actionable feedback (Rea, 2015).