Culturally Proficient Education: An Asset-Based Response to Conditions of Poverty

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Develop culturally proficient policies and practices that create opportunities for students of poverty!

Countering the perspective that students from poverty come to school with deficits that prevent them from learning, this resource offers educators the knowledge and skills to maximize educational opportunities for all students, independent of students’ socioeconomic status. Using the framework of cultural proficiency, this guide features:

  • An examination of how poverty intersects with other groupings, including race, ethnicity, and language acquisition
  • Research-based teaching strategies that draw on student strengths and assets
  • Vignettes and case studies
  • Reflective activities for understanding your own assumptions and values regarding equity

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Editorial Reviews

Kathleen Gavin
"Students in poverty circumstances need us more than ever. This book provides tools, resources, and thought-provoking vignettes to illustrate what can transform our educational practice to meet the needs of all kids. After reading this book, I am astounded by how we have compartmentalized educational programming to reduce achievement gaps and yet, after decades of research, found this to be ineffective. This new application for cultural proficiency is a testament to the educator-student relationship based on respect, understanding, and a common purpose, no matter what the background or culture of the student happens to be. We can't afford for more students to disengage from education. Thankfully, the authors frame that for us in a way that builds on where we are in our learning and moves us forward toward a positive, asset-building environment rather than a destructive deficit mind-set."
Rick Mooradian
"Before we can look at our students in a way that emphasizes what strengths and skills they bring to the classroom, we need to look at ourselves, our biases, and preconceptions. This book is an interactive model that uses the tools of cultural proficiency as a lens to look not only at our students, but also ourselves. This self-reflection enables us to be more effective for all our students."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412970860
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Pages: 161
  • Sales rank: 617,653
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Randall B. Lindsey is emeritus professor at California State University, Los Angeles and has a practice centered on educational consulting and issues related to equity and access. Prior to higher education faculty roles, he served as a junior and senior high school history teacher, a district office administrator for school desegregation, and executive director of a non-profit corporation. All of his experiences have been in working with diverse populations and his area of study is the behavior of white people in multicultural settings. It is his belief and experience that too often white people are observers of multicultural issues rather than personally involved with them. He works with colleagues to design and implement programs for and with schools, law enforcement agencies, and community-based organizations to provide access and achievement. He and his wife and frequent co-author, Delores, are enjoying this phase of life as grandparents, as educators, and in support of just causes that extend the promises of democracy throughout society in authentic ways.

Michelle S. Karns, MPA, is an educational consultant with over 30 years’ experience in school support and reform, including speaking before the United Nations at the World Conference on Children in 1995. Working with students, administrators, and teachers in districts through the United States and Canada, Michelle helps create the conditions for all students to learn and makes academic success complemented by social and emotional health a reality. She is especially successful working in under-resourced, minority districts that are experiencing internal and external challenges.

Michelle combines current academic research and resiliency research in support of hundreds of Title I schools achieving equity and excellence. She is an author of several books and multiple educational reform articles and works to help students and teachers build positive relationships and meet their academic and personal success goals. She is an avid advocate of parents as partners in school reform and is diligent in making that process possible for her districts.

Keith Myatt, MA, teaches educational leadership at California State University, Dominguez Hills in Los Angeles. He is co-president of the California Staff Development Council and works as a consultant in schools with the Center for Data, Collaboration, and Results. Keith has been working in educational leadership since 1992. He served as program director for the California School Leadership Academy (CSLA) for eight years at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Keith worked with Richard Martinez and Randy Lindsey to coordinate the first Cultural Proficiency Institutes. He has built upon that work as a presenter at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Keith will complete his doctoral studies at California Lutheran University in May 2010. His dissertation is the study of a school in a low-income neighborhood with a high concentration of English learners with a high proportion of students reaching grade-level standards in contrast to other schools with similar demographics. He is identifying culturally proficient practices within the school.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Dennis Parker viii

Acknowledgments x

About the Authors xii

Introduction 1

Part I Why Poverty and Cultural Proficiency? 5

1 Asset-Based Approaches to Students From Low-Income or Impoverished Communities 9

Getting Centered 9

The Intent of This Chapter 11

Poverty in Our Communities and Schools 12

Asset or Deficit Perspectives? 15

Recognizing Our Perspectives: Deficit- or Asset-Based? 17

The Promise of Culturally Proficient Approaches 22

Going Deeper 26

2 The Middle Class School in Communities of Poverty 28

Getting Centered 28

The Intent of This Chapter 30

Faces in the History of Poverty 30

Accountability: For Whom? 36

Four Stories Repeated Throughout Canada and the United States 38

Schools as Middle Class Entities: "Saving the Poor" 46

Cultural Proficiency as an Asset-Based Approach 47

Going Deeper 48

3 The Cultural Proficiency Tools Build on Assets 49

Getting Centered 49

Building on Other's Assets: Cultural Proficiency's Inside-Out Process 52

Cultural Proficiency Represents a Paradigm Shift for Viewing Poverty 53

Cultural Proficiency as a Lens 54

The Cultural Proficiency Tools 55

Cultural Proficiency and Resiliency: Educators and Students 62

Going Deeper 65

Part II Prosocial School Applications 67

4 Culturally Proficient Pedagogy 69

Getting Centered 69

Pine Hills High School's Socioeconomic Context 70

Intent of This Chapter 71

Beginning the Inside-Out Process 71

We Create Conditions for Learning 74

Culturally Competent Praxis 84

10 Tenets for Asset-Based Learning 87

Going Deeper 92

5 Culturally Proficient Leadership Support for Instruction 93

Getting Centered 93

Intent of This Chapter 96

Leadership for Learning 96

Reflective and Dialogic Questions 98

Going Deeper 114

6 Policy Development to Ensure and Support Teaching and Learning 115

Getting Centered 115

The Intent of This Chapter 119

Culturally Proficient Policy Development in Two Steps 120

Adaptive Leadership 122

Going Deeper 128

Part III A Call to Action 129

7 A Call to Action: The Time Is Now 131

Our Invitation to You 131

Personal and Organizational Change 131

Your Personal Journey: Issues of Low-Income and Impoverished Communities 133

Next Steps: Being Intentional 135

A Conversation That Matters 136


A Cultural Proficiency Conceptual Framework 138

B State Teachers' Association Retreat Script 140

C Taniko'sPoem 144

D How to Use the Cultural Proficiency Books 147

References 149

Suggested Additional Readings 155

Index 158

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