Said by Dr. Gary Thompson   There is considerable evidence of the significant effect that poverty has on neurobehavioral development. Primary among this evidence is the significantly higher prevalence of neurobehavioral disorders for individuals who suffer in poverty.

Data collected from the 1997-2008 National Health Interview Surveys (Boyle et al, 2011) found that family incomes below the federal poverty level were associated with higher levels of developmental disabilities, learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities.

Bergen (2008) identified protein-energy malnutrition, dietary micro-nutrient deficiencies, environmental toxins and lack of early sensory stimulation or the ability to profit from it as major reasons for why there are higher rates of neurobehavioral disorders among individuals living in poverty.

Noble, Houston, Kan & Sowell (2012) found significantly lower brain volume in the hippocampus and amygdala in children from lower-income households compared to children from higher-income households.

Wilber et al (2011) found that chronic stress associated with poverty can significantly impact on development of the prefrontal cortex. Rinaldi, Peroddin & Markram (2008) and Price (2006) found that the prefrontal cortex has been extensively implicated in explaining deficits in executive functioning, cognition, language, sociability and emotion.


Poverty impacts learning by diminishing the size of the parts of the brain that learning needs… A small cup cannot hold as much as a big cup… The big cup is a child from affluent parents that has enjoyed every possible nutrient available..


Education reformers think you can bypass all these physical realities, by simply setting expectations even higher.

“Oh, your brain is half the size of a Newark Charter student!… So tell you what, instead of doing 1st grade work in first grade, we are going to make you do 3rd and 4th grade work.. Higher expectations will make you smarter, you’ll see”

Instead of us applying resources to the real problem, we are making a show of diverting $250,000 a year to schemes that will have no impact at all, because all can see that the money is going to the absolute wrong place:  It is going towards setting expectations even higher, and not to helping those meet the expectations currently set.


The focus for poverty children should not be on testing. The focus needs to switch over to making these people skilled enough to fit productively into society. With physical proof that portions of their brain are missing, it is obvious that the way to combat poverty in schools is to put everyone on their own IEP…

  • What this child needs is to be fed when out of school… Put that in the IEP
  • This child need to move to reside in a safe environment…. Put that in the IEP
  • This child is being abused; he needs protective services… Put that in the IEP.

IEP’s when done right, work. They are individual educational programs that apply those things needed (accommodations)  to fill out the person they are describing.

Instead of trying to standardize rich and poor people into one box, we need to pivot and go the exact opposite direction for these people with half brains.  We need to create accommodations for them, just as we do for those with half legs or half arms,

The biggest accommodation impacting all students would be a student teacher ratio in all schools over 50% low income of 11:1…..and tax the 1% who have way too much money to pay for it…

This is easily done but can’t be done if your leader fires all current teachers to replace them with TFA’s just so the bulk of the new money can go into the pocket of the “good old boy” hand-picked to become the “school leader”…

Remember how this administration threw money at Fisker?  At Bloom?  At Kinder Morgan?  At the Vlassic Pickle site? At the TDC? This is the same approach which will net the same results… After all we have tried it 5 times already!!!  Shouldn’t there be a stopping point?