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Cultural Proficiency

Cultural Proficiency
A Manual for School Leaders

Fourth Edition

August 2018 | 360 pages | Corwin
This is a book for everyone who teaches.  Whether you are responsible for your organization’s training and development, you are providing basic education in an elementary school, or you are creating workshops for professional development, this book will help you manage the dynamics of difference necessary to create an environment where all students can learn.  Use this book as a workbook for small groups, or as a guide for improving the cultural competence of your teaching.

“This book is a riveting and unparalleled resource for all educational merchants of hope. . . . The insights, learning strategies, and professional development structures in this edition illuminate a path for all leaders to successfully commit to the journey of being equity champions!”

--Dr. Erick E. Witherspoon, National Director of Equity Professional Development Services
Generation Ready 

“There is no greater honor than to have one’s professional work become the inspiration for a new way of thinking, and transformative literature and action that change the world for schools and the children and youth they serve. I am grateful that the ideas have been so skillfully brought to scale by these authors.”
--Dr. Terry L. Cross, MSW, Founder and Senior Advisor
National Indian Child Welfare Association 

Preface to the Fourth Edition
Foreword to the Third Edition
Foreword to the Second Edition
Foreword to the First Edition
About the Authors
1. Cultural Proficiency
Cultural Proficiency: An Inside-Out Approach to Difference

The Four Tools

A Historical Context

Why Would I or My School Want to Engage?

Learning and Educating Effectively

Living in a Global Community

Participating in the Community

Culturally Proficient Leadership: Diversity “Is”

Resources for Developing Culturally Proficient Leaders

Read the Text First

Cultural Proficiency Books’ Essential Questions

Going Deeper: Reflection

Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions

2. A Cultural and Historical Context for Our Unfolding Democracy
An Inside-Out Approach

What It Takes

Culture Is . . .

What Happened to Race?

The Legacy of Segregation and Exclusion

A History of Caste in the United States

Labels for Historically Oppressed People

From Segregation to Cultural Proficiency

Culture and History Provide Perspective

Going Deeper: Reflection

Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions

3. Leadership for Today’s Schools
Our Journey With Culturally Proficient Leaders

Culturally Proficient Leadership: Exploring Deeply Held Values for Equity

Shared Vision

Long-Term, Systemic Change: Finding Leverage Points for Acti

Limitations of Local School Change Initiatives

Inside-Out Approach to Change: Why Leaders Ask Why?

Cultural Proficiency as a Frame for Change


Culturally Proficient Leadership Is Transformative

Continuum as a Guide: Creating Initial Awareness Is Cultural Precompetence

Tools for Change

Formal and Nonformal Leaders


Culturally Proficient Leaders Focus on Inequities

Going Deeper: Reflection

Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions

4. Framing Your Work With the Tools of Cultural Proficiency
The Important First Step: Inside-Out Change

Cultural Proficiency Conceptual Framework

The Four Tools of Cultural Proficiency

Going Deeper: Reflection

Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions

5. The Tool: Overcoming Barriers
Barriers to Cultural Proficiency

This Chapter Is for Everyone

Caveat: Systemic Oppression

Caveat: Privilege and Entitlement

Caveat: Unawareness of the Need to Adapt

Changing Educational Practices

Culturally Proficient Educators

Overcoming Resistance

Very Good News

Going Deeper: Reflection

Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions

6. The Tool: The Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency
Cultural Proficiency as an Expression of Values

Principle: Culture Is Ever Present

Principle: People Are Served in Varying Degrees by the Dominant Culture

Principle: People Have Group Identities and Personal Identities

Principle: Diversity Within Cultures Is Important

Principle: Each Group Has Unique Cultural Needs That Must Be Respected

Principle: The Family, as Defined by Each Culture, Is the Primary System of Support in the Education of Children

Principle: People Who Are Not a Part of the Dominant Culture Have to Be at Least Bicultural

Principle: Inherent in Cross-Cultural Interactions Are Social and Communication Dynamics That Must Be Acknowledged, Adjusted to, and Accepted

Principle: The School System Must Incorporate Cultural Knowledge Into Practice and Policymaking

Make It Count

Going Deeper: Reflection

Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions

7. The Tool: The Cultural Proficiency Continuum
Macro- and Microaggressions

The Continuum

Going Deeper: Reflection

Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions

8. The Tool: The Essential Elements
The Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency

Finding Leverage for School Leadership

Going Deeper: Reflection

Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions

9. Commit to Action
So Where Do You Start?

You Are Here

Action Through Transformative Collaborative Inquiry

Design the Inquiry

Going Deeper: Reflection

Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions

10. A Note to Those Preparing School Leaders


Historical Overview

Legacy in Part

Transformative Leadership Is Inclusive Leadership

Systemic Leadership and Tools of Cultural Proficiency

Achievement Gaps, Disproportionality, and Our Preparation Programs

Call to Action


Introduction to Learning Strategies
Do Your Own Work

Believe It

Be Able to Work Without the Script

Set the Tone

Take Time to Process

Use Small Groups

Work in Teams

Develop Your Own Style

Be Prepared for Trouble

Have Fun

Resource A: Understanding Diversity
Learning Strategy 1: Telling Your Stories

Learning Strategy 2: Diversity in Your Life

Learning Strategy 3: Stand Up

Learning Strategy 4: Line Up

Resource B: Getting to Know Myself
Learning Strategy 1: Journaling

Learning Strategy 2: Diversity Lifeline

Learning Strategy 3: Name Five Things

Learning Strategy 4: Who Are You?

Learning Strategy 5: Who Am I?

Learning Strategy 6: Cultural Portrait

Learning Strategy 7: Identities

Learning Strategy 8: Group Stereotypes

Learning Strategy 9: The Process of Personal Change

Learning Strategy 10: Seven Dynamics of Change

Learning Strategy 11: Paradigms

Learning Strategy 12: Strength Bombardment

Resource C: Getting to Know Your Colleagues and Your Organization
Learning Strategy 1: Introductory Grid

Learning Strategy 2: Cultural Perceptions

Learning Strategy 3: What’s in a Name?

Learning Strategy 4: Totems or Crests

Learning Strategy 5: Family Portrait

Learning Strategy 6: Group Stereotypes

Learning Strategy 7: Circle of History

Learning Strategy 8: Storytelling

Learning Strategy 9: Voices That Resonate

Learning Strategy 10: Needs Assessment

Resource D: Understanding Power and Privilege
Learning Strategy 1: Barriers to Cultural Proficiency

Learning Strategy 2: Describe a Culturally Incompetent Organization

Learning Strategy 3: A Survey of Privilege and Entitlement

Learning Strategy 4: Listening and Hearing

Learning Strategy 5: Seven-Minute Day

Resource E: Going Deeper With the Principles
Learning Strategy 1: Guiding Principles Discussion Starters

Learning Strategy 2: Family Values

Learning Strategy 3: My Work Values

Learning Strategy 4: Examining Your Organizational Values

Resource F: Going Deeper With the Continuum
Learning Strategy 1: Cultural Proficiency Continuum

Learning Strategy 2: Exploring Behaviors Along the Continuum

Resource G: Going Deeper With the Essential Elements
Learning Strategy 1: Using the Essential Elements

Learning Strategy 2: Essential Elements of Culturally Proficient Leaders

Learning Strategy 3: Cultural Competence Self-Assessment

Resource H: Book Study Guide
Resource I: Cultural Proficiency Books’ Essential Questions
Suggested Foundational Readings

"Informed by the latest literature and grounded in their ongoing work in the real world, the authors bring Cultural Proficiency right up to date and right into our current controversies. Our schools need this book on every level: from K-5 to college and from classroom to boardroom. Having worked toward diversity in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary school settings, I can tell you that all of them need this book."

Franz Metcalf, Ph. D, California State University, Los Angeles
California State University, Los Angeles

"As institutions and organizations become more socially and culturally diverse, leaders will be called to foster inclusive communities in which people can effectively work together. This edition of the Manual for Cultural Proficiency is a must read for leaders who are interested in deepening their understanding of cultural proficiency and learning about the policies, practices and internal structures required to build and maintain healthy organizational cultures. The manual provides a framework and set of tools that can be used in various organizational contexts and applied to both individual behavior and organizational practices. If you care about cultural proficiency, inclusive environments and diversity, you need this manual. Read it, refer to it often and commit to application of its strategies. Your organization will be better for it."

Angel Roberson Daniels, Vice President, The Angell Foundation
The Angell Foundation

"These are universal lessons: the barriers, guiding principles, continuum of responses, and essential elements of Cultural Proficiency apply to human service non-profits as well as they do in schools.  The authors articulate roles in ending oppression for both the dominant and dominated groups, lay out a clear road-map through the predictable and consistently challenging change process, and provide specific activities that I can use as a facilitator to help groups explore and address these important topicsCultural Proficiency brings together history, research, and activities that help me continue to do my own work as a white consultant to support and advance racial justice."

Elizabeth Sadlon, President, Sadlon & Associates, Inc.
Sadlon & Associates, Inc

"Cultural Proficiency provides me with the tools to face conflict head on and not stray from my intention of creating and nurturing school spaces that are safe, welcoming and inclusive for students no matter their background, level of ability or way of viewing and experiencing the world. Daily I actively engage with the tools of cultural proficiency. With an understanding of the inside-out approach to becoming a cultural proficient being I walk through the world with knowledge of the lens developed through my background, values, biases and beliefs. As I make decisions that impact students and support the professional learning of educators in my system, I reflect on the ethical tension between the barriers to and principles of cultural proficiency. It is through this critical self-reflection that I am able to prepare our staff to proactively build community and mentally prepare to address conflict when it interrupts the safe, welcoming and inclusive school environments students deserve."

Angela Ward, Race Equity Leader, Austin Independent School District
Austin Independent School District

"This book is designed as a manual for school leaders.  However, I have not found a better resource for developing culturally proficient leadership and organizations in any sector. The manual is rich with examples, tools and resources that educate and prepare formal or informal leaders to challenge counter-productive assumptions and biases; acknowledge their role in perpetuating systems of privilege; promote learning and growth from differences; create an inclusive work environment; meet the needs of diverse clientele; and work together in a healthy, productive way. This guide brings culturally naïve or destructive beliefs to light, creating immensely more aware and effective leaders."

Adena Wright Williams, Organization Development Consultant , CEO
WrightWay Consulting, Inc.

"This manual is needed now more than ever.  When differences are more disparaged, when fears and anxieties are stoked by public haters, when simplistic solutions to social and political problems are founded on ignorance and dreams of uniformity, educators and policy makers need a manual such as this:  practical, multi-faceted, broad in scope, and engaging. Having used it, I know it facilitates meaningful conversation, and fosters self-discovery, mutual understanding, and collective problem solving.  A fourth edition of this work testifies to its enduring value."

Sidney Morrison, Leadership Coach

"It is hard to believe that our esteemed authors, Lindsey, Robbins, and Terrell, are publishing their 4th edition of what I call the bible for all school administrators: Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders. Just like the bible, this manual has stood the test of time and remains just as apropos as it did when it was first published in 1999. I remember picking up the original black book when I first started in administration in 1999 and the contents of the book completely changed my way of thinking. It has always served as the compass towards improving education opportunities and educating students of color. This manual, this Holy Grail if you will, is a must-have for every administrator."

Dr. Roberto Núñez, Principal
Alisal Union School District

"Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders provides a framework for aspiring school leaders to practice culturally proficient leadership.   The activities, tools and strategies in this book support both leadership faculty and students to move away from prevailing 'one size fits all' models of school leadership to one of social justice leadership.   

Noni Mendoza-Reis, Professor of Educational Leadership
Connie Lurie College of Education, San Jose State University

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ISBN: 9781506390543
CAD$ 65.95

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