Contributed by Franklin CampbellJones
There are currently thirteen books on the topic of cultural proficiency in the Corwin publication suite that address why and how educators can effectively approach the creation of an equitable environment for student academic and social achievement. At the core of each book is the perspective that educators must obtain a mindset espousing equitable change within schools. But here is the personal straightforward question that each in the field of education must address: “Why should I change?” Here is the simple straightforward answer: “If you don’t, children fail.” From this premise the domino effect is obvious. When schools fail a society’s future citizens, that society – our society – is compromised leading to a weakened ability to effectively participate in a fast-emerging global community.
In one book of which I co-authored, The Cultural Proficiency Journey: Moving Beyond Ethical Barriers Toward Profound School Change, we challenged you to shift the historical tradition of education from educating ‘some’ children to a greater vision of educating ‘each’ child. Imagine:
- An educational system where every educator had courage of their convictions to do what is right on behalf or our students and families.
- Practicing culturally competent behaviors and advocating on behalf of students in situations where an adult was clearly in the wrong.
- A culture where educators are open and honest enough to admit they did not have the skills to teach every child, and were willing to learn to do so in a culturally proficient manner.
- An educational system where each individual followed the moral mandates of their hearts rather than following legislated mandates
- An educational system that operated from a position of faith and confidence rather than fear.
- An educational system where every cultural group is esteemed, and people are eagerly seeking alliances, with groups other than its own.
Taking the cultural proficiency journey means that you can imagine the vision listed above, promising a world-class education for each child. If you can imagine it, you can believe it. If you can believe it, you can bring it to fruition. If you are not able to engage your imagination inline with providing an equitable and inclusive education for every child, it should minimally cause you disturbance as to why not. Asked another way, why would a teacher not imagine the best for her student?
The culturally proficient journey requires that educators question tradition, or more forcefully stated, question the truth about how we educate children. We face a reality that many schools have created, maintained, and propagated:
- racial segregation
- gender inequality
- academic tracking systems
- religious disparities
Facing this simple truth affords us the opportunity to interrupt tradition, purposefully stop the proliferation of indifference, and create a culture of responsiveness and responsibility to one another. Taking the cultural proficiency journey says “I am willing to purposefully do whatever it takes to educate every child to the highest educational standards within my power.”
Franklin CampbellJones will be presenting at the October Cultural Proficiency Institute in Dallas, TX. Register here.
Franklin CampbellJones is associate professor of education leadership at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. He completed six years as a tenured faculty member of education leadership at California State University, Los Angeles. He is a national and international facilitator of organization learning and diversity. His 30-year service in education includes tenure as a high school social science teacher, school administrator, and project director for the State of California. He is co-author of The Cultural Proficient School and The Cultural Proficiency Journey, Corwin bestsellers.