I just went to a one-day workshop on Ruby Payne's book and found it to be extremely valuable. I teach in a school of 2500 students, 30% of whom live in poverty. This book was an excellent tool to teach the concept that students living in poverty (especially generational poverty) often live by a different "code" than the middle class. With that said, our public educational system is largely based on the middle class code, which these students may have a hard time fitting into. Payne gives a great overview of the issues that impoverished students MAY be facing, and I don't think her work can be taken as an "all or nothing" view. Obviously, not every person reacts that same way to any given situation. However, Payne's information opened my eyes to the disparities in my classroom, and gave me a great deal of insight into students' behaviors.
Be cautious, be cautious, be cautious! The points about her work being self-published are very telling- graduate (and undergraduate for that matter!) students are taught to cite, cite, cite- and NEVER make generalizations, and are also instructed in conducting "empirically based research"! I am not sure how this author missed these "lessons"- This "book" is well accepted because it makes those from the middle class "feel good" about helping all the poor unfortunate (ignorant?) souls in poverty- instead of recognizing and fighting structural level inequalities-