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Cultural Proficiency. Tools for School Leaders. Your Facilitators. Kikanza Nuri Robins, EdD Principal, The Robins Group Randall B. Lindsey, PhD Interim Dean, California Lutheran University Associate, The Robins Group Co-Authors of the Cultural Proficiency books (Corwin Press).

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cultural proficiency

Cultural Proficiency

Tools for School Leaders

your facilitators
Your Facilitators
  • Kikanza Nuri Robins, EdD
    • Principal, The Robins Group
  • Randall B. Lindsey, PhD
    • Interim Dean, California Lutheran University
    • Associate, The Robins Group
  • Co-Authors of the Cultural Proficiency books (Corwin Press)
cultural proficiency3
Cultural Proficiency
  • A mind set; a way of being
  • The use of specific tools
  • Policies and practices within organizations
  • Values and behaviors of individuals
  • The gift of Terry Cross
    • A Culturally Competent System of Care, 1989
an inside out approach
An Inside-Out Approach
  • Tied to your core values
  • Using your organizational structure and systems
  • Described with your language
  • Building on your organizational norms and traditions
  • Infused, transformed, and bolstered with the tools of Cultural Proficiency
cultural proficiency helps
Cultural Proficiency Helps
  • To create learning communitiesamong and between educators and students
  • To align your values and educational philosophies with your daily practices
a moral frame for teaching
A Moral Frame for Teaching
  • A commitment to practice in an exemplary way
  • A commitment to practice toward valued societal ends
  • A commitment not only to one’s own practice, but to the practice itself
  • A commitment to sharing knowledge and skills with other professionals
  • A commitment to the ethic of caring

Sergiovanni, 1994

education in and for democracy
Education in and for Democracy
  • The best case for public education has always been that it is a common good.
  • As the main institution for fostering social cohesion in an increasingly diverse society, publicly funded schools must serve all children, not simply those with the loudest or most powerful advocates. This means addressing the cognitive and social needs of all children, with an emphasis on including those who may not have been well served in the past.

Michael Fullan, The Moral Imperative of School Leadership

major equity events
Major Equity Events
  • Mendez vs. Westminster - 1947
  • Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education - 1954
  • School desegregation cases
  • Public School Accountability Act - 1999
  • No Child Left Behind - 2002
the tools of cultural proficiency
The Tools of Cultural Proficiency
  • The Continuum
    • Language for describing both healthy and non-productive policies, practices and individual behaviors
  • The Essential Elements
    • Behavioral standards for measuring, and planning for, growth toward cultural proficiency
  • The Barriers
    • Caveats that assist in responding effectively to resistance to change
  • The Guiding Principles
    • Underlying values of the approach
the continuum
There are six points along the cultural proficiency continuum that indicate unique ways of perceiving and responding to differences.

Cultural destructiveness

Cultural incapacity

Cultural blindness

Cultural pre-competence

Cultural competence

Cultural proficiency

The Continuum
the power of context
The Power of Context

It is not the heroic actions of tackling complex societal problems that count; instead, “the power of context says that what really matters is the little things.”

Fullan 2003

activity words often used to describe some groups and implied terms for others

Culturally deprived

Culturally disadvantaged




Third world




Unskilled workers







First world


Upper class

Middle class


ActivityWords often used to describe some groups and implied terms for others
  • Examples along the Continuum
    • Reflect on comments you have heard, situations you have experienced, and events you have observed
    • Where would you place them on the continuum?
research based pedagogy for narrowing the achievement gap
Research-Based Pedagogy for Narrowing the Achievement Gap
  • Teachers have a clear sense of their own cultural identities.
  • Teachers communicate high expectations for learning and a belief that all students can succeed.
  • Teachers are committed to achieving equity for all students and believe they are capable of making a difference in students’ learning.
narrowing the gap continued
Narrowing the Gap, continued
  • Teachers cease seeing students as the other.
  • Teachers provide academically challenging curriculum that includes the development of higher-level cognitive skills.
  • Teachers guide students to create meaning about content in interactive, collaborative environments.
narrowing the gap continued16
Narrowing the Gap, continued
  • Teachers provide learning tasks that students see as meaningful.
  • Teachers provide a curriculum with multiple perspectives.
  • Teachers scaffold new and challenging curriculum to existing student resources and knowledge.
narrowing the gap continued17
Narrowing the Gap, continued
  • Teachers explicitly teach students to know and maintain a sense of ethno-cultural pride and identity.
  • Teachers encourage parents and community to become partners in students' education.
  • Parents are given a significant voice in making decisions related to school programs and resources.

B. Williams, Closing the Achievement Gap, 2003

the essential elements
The Essential Elements of cultural proficiency provide the standards for individual behavior and organizational practices

Assessing CultureNaming the differences

Valuing DiversityClaiming the differences

The Essential Elements
the essential elements cont
The Essential Elements (cont.)
  • Managing the Dynamics of Difference – Reframing the differences
  • Adapting to Diversity - Training about the differences
  • Institutionalizing Cultural Knowledge – Changing for differences
  • Making Room at the Table
    • Examine a few of the tables at which you sit.
    • How did you get there?
    • Do you have a voice?
    • How do you help or hinder others who want to sit at the table?
the barriers
The barriers to cultural proficiency are systemic privilege and resistance to change

The presumption of entitlement

Systems of oppression

Unawareness of the need to adapt

The Barriers
the guiding principles
The Guiding Principles are the core values, the foundation upon which the approach is built

Culture is a predominant force

People are served in varying degrees by the dominant culture

Acknowledge group identities

Diversity within cultures is important

Respect unique cultural needs

The Guiding Principles
courageous leadership
Courageous Leadership

There are many persons ready to do what is right because in their hearts they know it is right. But they hesitate, waiting for the other [one] to make the first move – and [the other], in turn, waits for you. The minute a person whose word means a great deal dares to take the openhearted and courageous way, many others follow.

Marian Anderson, 1956

the moral imperative
The Moral Imperative
  • Listening . . . requires not only open eyes and ears, but open hearts and minds. We do not really see through our eyes or hear through our ears, but through our beliefs. . . . It is not easy, but it is the only way to learn what it might feel like to be someone else and the only way to start the dialogue.

Lisa Delpit

a culturally proficient vision
A Culturally Proficient Vision

Equity will be a reality when children from minority racial, cultural, socio-economic, and linguistic backgrounds experience statistically similar rates of meeting high standards as do children from the majority culture.

Bay Area Educational Equity Task Force