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The Culturally Proficient School

The Culturally Proficient School
An Implementation Guide for School Leaders

Second Edition

June 2013 | 200 pages | Corwin

The groundbreaking guide to cultural proficiency in schools, updated to meet today’s challenges 

The first edition of The Culturally Proficient School opened new dialogue about diversity and cultural dignity that had an immediate impact on educators, becoming the go-to resource for ideas about how to serve all students equitably.

This second edition incorporates reader feedback and up-to-date research on closing access and achievement gaps, delivering a guide to cultural proficiency that is more relevant, accessible and effective than ever. New content includes:

• Instructive vignettes that reflect contemporary truths about educational diversity and moral leadership
• Emphasis on skills development, including the art and science of conversation
• A conceptual framework that makes clear the first steps to take towards a more culturally proficient school

The face of educational diversity is changing. Now more than ever, this book is the key to mastering the challenges and opportunities it presents.

“In The Culturally Proficient School, the authors take the reader on a journey of personal reflection and capacity building. This authentic examination of our assumptions and practices creates a necessary, healthy tension to move from simply learning to changing our practices in schools. In a nutshell, an educational leader can take this book and create a learning community that aligns the work of adults around a commitment to creating a culturally proficient school that benefits each student.”
— Jeff Ronneberg, Superintendent
Spring Lake Park Schools, MN

1st edition-- Flora Ida Ortiz

2nd edition-- Sid Salazar

About the Authors
I. Cultural Proficiency and the Achievement Gap
1. Culture Frames Achievement Gaps
Getting Centered

Cultural Proficiency Manages Change

Our Invitation to You: From NCLB to Common Core

The 'Why' of This Book

2. The Importance of Culturally Proficient Leadership
The Case: Maple View

Maple View School District

Maple View: The People

Leadership Action That Matters

Invitation: Assess Your Receptivity

Cultural Proficiency Receptivity Scale

Going Deeper

II. The Tools of Cultural Proficiency: An Inside-Out Change Process
The Conceptual Framework is a Guide

3. Overcoming Self-Imposed Barriers to Moral Leadership
Getting Centered

Maple View Discovers What it Cares About

Entitlement and Privilege as Education History

Transformative Leadership

Facing Entitlement: The Conundrum of Anger, Guilt or Confidence

Reflections on Entitlement: A Pine Hills Elementary School Conversation

Reflections on Entitlement: Oppression, Entitlement, or Self-Determination and Personal Responsibility?

Self Determination and Personal Responsibility: From Feelings to Action

4. Cultural Proficiency in Practice: The Guiding Principles
Sam Brewer: The Making of a Culturally Proficient Practice

Mobilizing Communities to Make Progress – Without Easy Answers

The Guiding Principles of Culturally Proficient Leadership

Focus on Assets, Overcome Barriers

Core Value Expressions in Maple View School District

Applying Guiding Principles to Your Practice

5. The Cultural Proficiency Continuum: Changing the Conversation
Cultural Proficiency: A Transformative Approach

Return to Maple View

6. The Essential Elements as Standards of Leadership Behavior
Tolerance for Diversity vs. Transformation for Equity

Pine Hills High School’s Leadership Approach to Cultural Proficiency

Essential Elements as Standards for Leadership Behavior and School Policy

Making Sense of the Elements, Standards, and Behavior

Template for Strategic Planning

Going Deeper

III. Professional Learning for Organizational Change
7. Conversation: A Skill for the Culturally Proficient Leader
Getting Centered

Skillful Use of Communication Channels

Organizations as Relationships

The Essence of Communication: Co-constructing Meaning

Modes of Conversing

Practicing Conversation Skills

8. Leading in a Culture of Learning and Transformative Change
Learning How to be a Culturally Proficient Leader

Transformative Learning

A Transformative Vision of Maple View School District

Our Wish to You and the Community You Serve

Going Deeper

Book Study Guide

The People of Maple View

Break Through Questions

Matrix of Cultural Proficiency Books’ and Essential Questions


"Our graduate students in education have used the first edition text as a core reference for thinking, talking and acting around issues of equity and social justice since 2005. Key concepts, terms, and tools such as Maple View, Going Deeper, the Cultural Proficiency Continuum and Privilege have become embedded in our shared language for framing transformative leadership and democratic organizations and societies. Leadership starts from within and is a responsible, intentional choice. The text makes such ideas very real and accessible, especially with the workbook format. I am invited to bring myself to the text in honest reflection. The book expands and complicates notions of self, relationships, critical conversations and inclusive communities for social justice. The authors have strong credibility; they write with conviction and inspiration. In the process, they authentically build and cross the very cultural bridges about which they write. I am delighted with a new updated version of what has become a classic must read and make-my-own for any leader in education in the 21st century."

Penny S. Bryan, Associate Professor
Chapman University

"When seeking to understand cultural differences we often look at how other cultures impact our environment Culturally Proficient Schools challenges us at individuals and as organizations to take a deeper look into our own culture and its effect on others. For any person or organization desiring to move toward cultural proficiency, this book is a must have tool to guide you along the way."

Genia Bullock, Public Relations Coordinator
Texarkana Arkansas School District

"In Culturally Proficient Schools the authors take the reader on a journey of not only personal reflection and capacity building, but provide a framework for educational leaders to facilitate professional learning that will reveal the systemic structures and practices that lead to existing inequities and current results. This authentic examination of our assumptions and practices creates a necessary, healthy tension to move from simply learning, to changing our practices in schools. In a nutshell, an educational leader can take this book and create a learning community that aligns the work of adults around a commitment to creating a culturally proficient school that benefits each student."

Jeff Ronneberg, Superintendent
Spring Lake Park Schools, MN
Key features
  • Reflective activities for individuals or groups
  • Examples of typical conversations that arise around the issues of diversity, multiculturalism, equity, entitlement, and racism
  • Typical behaviors associated with culturally proficient leadership organized around the responsibilities of school leaders
  • A rich and detailed case study of a fictionalized school district interwoven throughout the book, providing opportunities for discussion and reflection
  • Professional development activities

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452258386