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Cultural Competency & Education
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Cultural Competency & Education

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To shine a light on the lack of cultural competency in the education system that continues to perpetuate disparaging statistics for minority students; and to propose solutions that will lead our …

To shine a light on the lack of cultural competency in the education system that continues to perpetuate disparaging statistics for minority students; and to propose solutions that will lead our society toward equal educational outcomes.

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  • Minority students in the United States are statistically over-identified in venues that highlight achievement gaps in education through low standardized test scores and negative outcomes because of detentions, suspensions, drop out, exclusion, expulsion, and incarceration. This legacy is perpetuated by a system that is not culturally competent because it was not created to educate all cultures of children. We are now in the twenty-first century. In the United States, cultural diversity is growing not diminishing. It’s time to hold that system accountable and create the change we wish to see in education.
  • The importance of questioning the cultural competency of educators as an indicator of minority students’ educational outcome is to aid in the design and development of future teacher certification instruction and to highlight a reason why, statistically, minority students continue to fail elementary and secondary education in the U.S. This initiative will shine a light on the disparaging statistics of minority students, elicit conversations between administrators, educators, and most of all government officials who should be the leaders of true education reform with a mission to create equality in education.
  • The legacy of zero to poor education in the U.S. has been perpetuated since the days of slavery when “educated Negros” were lynched because they knew how to read and or because they were teaching others how to read. When slavery was abolished, “separate but equal” was the mindset of the ruling class. Black children were lucky to have outdated books from which to learn, but they were allowed to learn. During the “Civil Rights” movement, “Title VI of the Civil Rights Act” was passed in nineteen sixty four. That law mandated that minorities had the right to be educated, and it prohibited discrimination. The problem is, if you have to pass a law to mandate equality, this shows that society was not willing to treat people equally to begin with. With this reality, the negative educational results of minority children are still alive in two thousand and nine, forty-five years later. The law has not yet worked for the majority of minority children.
  • The graduation statistics of “all” minority children in the U.S. are unfavorably low, including Asians, who culturally and traditionally stress the need for higher education to their children. Hispanics, who also have the language barrier to contend with in a country that only values people who speak English, lose almost fifty percent of their students to the streets. Cultural competency will address this gap and teach teachers how to design their curriculum standards to address diverse learners.
  • Because of the lack of culturally competent teachers, many minority students are removed from classes through “Zero Tolerance” school policies that criminalize childish behavior, but no one is asking “Why is this behavior happening?” A child is held accountable for respecting teachers and administrators, but these same adults are allowed to disrespect a child. The media perpetuates the negative stereotypes of minority children and teachers are not inoculated from believing what they see on the media, so many treat minority students as if they are not worthy of an education because their more than likely going to end up incarcerated anyway. Children react to the way they are treated. Treat them with love, respect and nurturance, and they will learn, grow, and prosper. It’s time to break the cycle.
  • Being pre-judged as incompetent, insubordinate, and lazy, is a minority’s legacy of prejudice; and whether educators are conscious of this or not, the first thing that is seen is the color of a child’s skin. Many educators cannot or do not look past color to see the positive potential inherent in all children. Minorities long for the day of positive judgment.
  • People respond to laws and regulations as they are made to. If a police officer was not going to pull a driver over for speeding, more people would continue to speed knowing there would be no consequence even though it is a law to obey the speed limit. Educating all children is a law, yet the governmental policing agencies are not being held accountable for doing their job regardless of the statistics, regardless of the treatment of minority students that is glaring in all yearly reports of lack of educational attainment. Instead our taxes pay for their education, we are spending more tax dollars on incarceration. Who is policing the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education? No one, but because our taxes pay their salaries, in essence, they work for the public and the public can hold them accountable. So the question is, do they allow these statistics to continue because they are malicious in their want to not educate minority students, or are they ignorant to their roll in preventing what is happening?
  • Typically, teachers get into the teaching profession because they are passionate about the education of children. It’s not for the salary, because they are not paid according to their worth. It’s because they have a vision of a better future, and they want to be a part of shaping that future. The racist conditioning through all forms of media, generational beliefs and teachings, all lend a hand in shaping the person before they choose teaching as a career. Deconstructing the prejudicial and racist ideology for every person who chooses to teach children should be a mandate, because even though people don’t see their biases, they do exist in most. They can’t escape societal conditioning, and deconstructing that conditioning should be the first class that a prospective teacher takes. We all need to turn a critical lens inward to understand what conditioning has done to us, and then change it. Then we could say that most teachers are “exceptional”, and not just good.
  • So now what do we need to do? We need to create educational curriculum for new teachers to allow them the safe space for reflection and positive reform of thoughts and cultural values. These courses should reflect the multicultural needs of each teacher and shine a light on best teaching practices for culturally competent teachers. At the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, there needs to be reform to reflect in the multicultural needs of the educational arm of the government as they turn an internal lens into their own beliefs and practices. Without deconstructing the racist views of everyone involved in educating all children, the status quo will continue, and status quo is no longer acceptable.
  • There is excellence in all people regardless of their culture, race, color of their skin, or any other differences to the ruling class of our society but very few do the internal work to see this to be a truth. Until, as a society, we look at the rights of all children to an education that allows them to advance and prosper in society, we are perpetuating a legacy of injustice for minority students.


  • 1. Cultural Competency & Education To expose the current lack of cultural competency in the American school system and thus help change the educational outcomes of minority students
    • Development of new teacher culturally competent curriculum for certification
    • Change the disparaging statistics of minority students in elementary through post secondary education.
    • Create equality in
    • education
    • Pre-Civil Rights: Slavery to separate but equal
    • Post-Civil Rights Law: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandating the rights of minorities to be educated
    • by prohibiting discrimination.
    • According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2007), 9.9% of White students; 18.8% Black; 41.5% Hispanics; 12.3% Asian; and 24.2% Native; did “NOT” complete high school.
    • Children react to adults by the way that they are treated.
    • If the teacher treats the student as if they are not worthy of an education, the student will react to that form of prejudice.
    • “ Minority-group responses to prejudice and discrimination include avoidance, deviance, defiance, and acceptance, depending in large measure on the group’s perception of its power to change the status quo” (Parrillo, 2003, p. 132).
    • “ I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” (Kenrick, Neuberb, & Cialdini, 2007, p. 489).
    • The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is in charge of overseeing the education of all children.
    • Malicious Intent or Ignorance?
    • “ Teachers are some of the most dedicated professionals in the world, yet the societal conditioning of biases often prevents them from successfully educating all students” (McLean-Donaldson, 2001, p. 11). Many have not turned a critical lens inward at the racist constructs of our society through the media and/or inherited beliefs, and how it reflects
    • in their perceptions of educating
    • minorities.
    • The first step in educational curriculum reform for teachers is a course or courses that provide a space for their reflection of cultural differences and the deconstruction of racist views and attitudes mandated for all people who want to become teachers and administrators .
    • Courses need to be created to teach multi-cultures that actually break down the myths created by a bias society so that when they become educators, they will help create curriculum and teaching practices that include all views and different perspectives based on cultural differences.
    • “ No educational approach can be successful over the long term if it is based on an erroneous and
    • unflattering perception of the capabilities of
    • learners, and if not grounded in a full respect
    • for the student’s home culture and community
    • values” (DeVillar, Faltis, & Cummins, 1994,
    • p. 106). These unflattering and erroneous
    • perceptions have been allowed to culminate
    • in American society since the days of slavery
    • and although minorities have made some
    • gains in the education arena,
    • there is still a lot of work to do.
    • DeVillar, R., Faltis, C., & Cummins, J. (1994). Cultural Diversity in Schools: From rhetoric to practice . Albany, NY. State University of New York Press.
    • Kenrick, Douglas, T. Neuberg, Steven, L. Cialdini, Robert B. (2007). Social Psychology: Goals in interaction (4th Ed.) Boston, MA. Pearson Education, Inc.
    • McLean-Donaldson, K. (2001). Shattering the Denial: Protocols for the classroom & beyond . Westport, CT. Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.
    • National Center for Education Statistics. (2007). Status and trends in the education of racial and ethnic minorities. Retrieved on November 21, 2009 from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/2007039.pdf
    • Parrillo, V.. (2003) Strangers to these shores . (7th Ed.) Boston, MA. Pearson Education Inc.