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Cultural Proficiency

Cultural Proficiency
A Manual for School Leaders

Third Edition

Foreword by Darline P. Robles

© 2009 | 344 pages | Corwin

Leadership Solutions

"This book is a phenomenal resource for school districts and organizations interested in improving the culture of their organizations. It provides a solid foundation for understanding equity, embracing diversity, and adapting to differences. Moreover, the protocols and activities in this edition serve as a road map for school and district leaders on the journey toward cultural proficiency."
—Lynne Rosen, Director of Language and Cultural Equity
Albuquerque Public Schools, NM

Embark on a journey toward cultural proficiency that results in professional growth and organizational change!

Because change is an ongoing and personal process, this book helps school leaders recognize their own barriers to cultural proficiency and take steps to effectively describe, plan for, and respond to issues that arise in diverse environments.

This powerful third edition of Cultural Proficiency offers fresh approaches, a revised organization, and new activities that enable leaders to engage in effective interactions with students, educators, and the communities they serve. Randall B. Lindsey, Kikanza Nuri Robins, and Raymond D. Terrell meticulously provide information gathered from their experiences working with schools, educational agencies, and organizations across the United States and Canada and show how school leaders can:

  • Gain a personal understanding of what cultural proficiency means in practice
  • Use collaborative activities to effect change in a school
  • Lead a learning community toward becoming a culturally proficient organization

With updated and expanded vignettes, this resource provides a unique, field-tested plan for addressing diversity and ensuring that schools are places of learning that value students of all backgrounds.

Foreword to the Third Edition by Darline P. Robles
Foreword to the Second Edition by Carl A. Cohn
Foreword to the First Edition by Asa G. Hilliard, III
About the Authors
Part I. Understanding Cultural Proficiency
1. Cultural Proficiency
Cultural Proficiency – An Inside-Out Approach to Difference  
The Four Tools  
A Historical Context  
What’s In It For Us?  
Learning and Teaching Effectively  
Living in a Global Community  
Participating in the Community  
Providing Leadership  
The Case  
Rolling Meadows Unified School District  
Coolidge Unified School District  
Resources for Developing Culturally Proficient Leaders  
Read the Text First  
The Matrix  
Going Deeper  
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 U.S.  
Labels for Historically Oppressed People  
Segregation to Cultural Proficiency  
Culture and History Provide Perspective  
Going Deeper  
3. Leadership for Today’s Schools
Our Journey and Culturally Proficient Leaders  
Transformational Leadership  
Formal and Nonformal Leaders  
Collaborative Leadership  
Culturally Proficient Leadership  
So, Where Do You Start?  
Going Deeper  
4. Framing Your Work With the Cultural Proficiency Tools
Inside-Out Change  
Cultural Proficiency Conceptual Framework  
The Four Tools of Cultural Proficiency  
Going Deeper  
Part II. Using the Tools of Cultural Proficiency
5. The First 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  
6. The Second Tool: The Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency
The Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency  
Cultural Proficiency as 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 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 Acknwledged, Adjusted to, and Accepted  
Principle: The School System must Incorporate Cultural Knowledge into Practice and Policy Making  
Make it Count  
Going Deeper  
7. The Third Tool: The Cultural Proficiency Continuum
The Continuum  
Going Deeper  
8. The Fourth Tool: The Essential Elements
The Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency  
Analyzing School Leadership  
Going Deeper  
Part III. Making the Commitment to Cultural Proficiency
9. The Case: One Last Look
Matrix: How to Use Cultural Proficiency Books
Introduction to Resource Activities
Resource A. Understanding Diversity
Activity 1. A Few Definitions  
Activity 2. Telling Your Story  
Activity 3. Diversity in Your Life  
Activity 4. Stand Up  
Activity 5. Line Up  
Activity 6. Demographics  
Activity 7. Starpower  
Resource B. Getting to Know Myself
Activity 1. Journaling  
Activity 2. Diversity Lifeline  
Activity 3. Name Five Things  
Activity 4. Who are You?  
Activity 5. Who am I?  
Activity 6. Cultural Portrait  
Activity 7. Personal Stereotypes I  
Activity 8. Personal Stereotypes II  
Activity 9. Process of Personal Change  
Activity 10. Seven Dynamics of Change  
Activity 11. Paradigms  
Activity 12. Strength Bombardment  
Resource C. Getting to Know Your Colleagues and Your Organization
Activity 1. Introductory Grid  
Activity 2. Cultural Perceptions  
Activity 3. What’s Your Name  
Activity 4. Totems or Crests  
Activity 5. Family Portrait  
Activity 6. Group Stereotypes  
Activity 7. Circle of History  
Activity 8. Storytelling  
Activity 9. Voices that Resonate  
Activity 10. Needs Assessment  
Resource D. Understanding Power and Privilege
Activity 1. Barriers to Cultural Proficiency  
Activity 2. Culturally Incompetent Organizations  
Activity 3. Privilege and Entitlement Survey  
Activity 4. Listening and Hearing  
Activity 5. Seven Minute Day  
Resource E. Going Deeper with the Principles
Activity 1. Guiding Principles Discussion Starters  
Activity 2. Family Values  
Activity 3. My Work Values  
Activity 4. Managing Conflict with Our Core Values  
Activity 5. Examining Your Organizational Values  
Resource F. Going Deeper with The Continuum
Activity 1. The Cultural Proficiency Continuum  
Activity 2. Exploring Behaviors Along the Continuum  
Resource G. Going Deeper with the Essential Elements
Activity 1. Understanding the Essential Elements  
Activity 2. Essential Elements of Culturally Proficient Leaders  
Activity 3. Cultural Competence Self Assessment  

"This book is a phenomenal resource for school districts and organizations that are interested in improving the culture of their organizations. It provides a solid foundation for understanding equity, embracing diversity, and adapting to differences. Moreover, the protocols and activities presented in this edition are practical to use and serve as a road map for school and district leaders on the journey toward cultural proficiency."

Lynne Rosen, Director of Language and Cultural Equity
Albuquerque Public Schools, NM

"The tools of cultural proficiency outlined in this book have provided the foundation upon which we are building our state educational leadership system. We believe that culturally proficient school leaders can close the educational achievement gap in Massachusetts."

Bobbie D'Alessandro and Erica Champagne
Leadership Development, Massachusetts Department of Education

In consideration for a future term.

Dr Anthony Rosilez
College Of Education, Cal St Univ-San Marcos
March 6, 2015

This is one of the best books regarding leadership and cultural proficiency that I have read yet.

Dr Yolanda Ramirez
School Of Education, University of Texas - Permian Basin
September 11, 2013

The text has a great way of highlighting the needs and strategies for leaders to adapt to culturally related situations.

Professor Cheryl Baker
College of Graduate Studies, Plymouth State University
June 18, 2012

The 3rd edition of Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders represents the on-going work of the authors. In our work with schools and other organizations across the United States and Canada, we have learned from and with our colleagues. People's personal journeys and their work in schools and other organizations are reflected in the content, case story, and resource activities in this 3rd edition.

While we've worked diligently to retain the integrity of prior editions, we've made the following improvements to this edition:

  • A conceptual framework for cultural proficiency is presented that graphically illustrates the interrelationship among the four tools of cultural proficiency. In easy reference form, the reader can contrast how barriers to cultural proficiency inform and support values, behaviors, policies and practices that perpetuate disparities in society while guiding principles that hold culture as a core value can be used to serve cultural groups in an equitable manner to close gaps in access and performance.
  • The content and vignettes reflect our continuous learning and have been updated accordingly.
  • Several new activities are added in the Resources section, which has been assembled at the back of the book. The introduction to the Resources section provides a schema for using the activities for personal or professional development.
  • A matrix has been added that describes how to use other Cultural Proficiency books.

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

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ISBN: 9781412963633

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