White Paper Tucson Unified School District's Civil Rights Imperative: Equity, Cultural Responsiveness, Critical Multicultural Education

, and the Achievement of Equality in Academic Outcomes for All Students Context Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is currently in the middle of its second attempt to obtain unitary status in its federal desegregation case. i This latest attempt has acknowledged the need to address the academic outcomes of the represented plaintiff groups. Moreover, TUSD recognizes the need to address this issue from an equity-based perspective that is culturally responsive. Belaboring the historic gap in academic performance of our historically underserved students or blaming their families ii or their socio-economic statusiii or their culture has not proven itself helpful in the implementation of actions that reverse the academic trajectory of these students. Reviewing data or even using data to name the problem(s) is not enough. The historic and contemporary underachievement of our historically underserved students has been the focus of conversation for decades; iv however, the divergent trajectory between historically underserved students and their White peers continues. v Whether we like it or not race and ethnicity are still the dominant explanatory and/or predictive variables in the academic achievement equation. TUSD must gain an understanding of how to make schools more effective and joyous places for all students; especially, those who have been historically underserved. Therefore, we must redefine who we are. As we define our new identity, we must have the courage to look in the mirror; we must be honest about what we see or do not see in the mirror; and in some cases we must acknowledge that we may not understand what we see and/or what we do not see. Our new identity affects the identity that our students will form; especially, our historically underserved students because it becomes what we do in their service. We must acknowledge our historic failure to equitably and effectively help our underserved students develop a strong academic identity. Identity formation is critical to the academic success of our students; vi moreover, the nurturing of an academic identity is hyper critical to the academic success of our students; in particular, students from historically underserved populations. vii Gay articulates how an adverse educational experience impacts the identities of both students and teachers. In her example, Gay uses a well meaning inspirational small business motto: "Failure is an experience, not an individual.” viii Regrettably, this is untrue for many students who are unsuccessful in school. “They and their teachers connect their academic difficulties to their personal worth, and the individuals are deemed failures." ix

White  Paper:  Cultural  Responsive  Pedagogy  -­‐  DMC  –  A.  F.  Romero,  Ph.  D.  

Page  1  

A New Trajectory: Student Equity In order to shift our trajectory, we must forgo the notion of "at-risk" students, and focus on the greatest variable in the achievement gap equation, which is a "system that creates risk." x William Ryan helps us understand that our achievement gaps are not a product of our students, their parents, their communities or their culture: We are dealing; it would seem, not so much with the culturally deprived children as with culturally depriving schools. And the task to be accomplished is not to revise, amend, and repair deficient children, but to alter and transform the atmosphere and operations of the schools to which we commit the children. xi Academic success and the equality of academic outcome for our historically underserved students are possible. The success of these students is dependent upon our will to create the most equitable academic and social condition possible. The initial steps and understanding of this bold, just, and equitable endeavor are outlined below. What is step one? Step one is to examine the issues, biases and prejudices that are carried into our classrooms, our schools, central offices, boardrooms etc., and how these things impact curricula, pedagogy, policies and actions. xii We must constantly engage in a process of examining, reexamining and critiquing our own perspective because these steps or failure to engage these steps affect the way we approach transformation, and will directly impact the level of success our students will experience. Why is traditional curricular and pedagogical transformation necessary? For many people, it is easy and convenient to forget that the United States' public school system has an overtly racist and classist history. xiii As we examine our shortcomings within this historical context, it is important to remember that the FisherMendoza desegregation challenge to the overtly discriminatory educational practices in our District did not and has not addressed the issue of academic achievement. Placing the issue of academic outcomes in our Unitary Status Plan creates a new space (a new TUSD identity), a space wherein not only must we acknowledge, name and define the district's discriminatory reality; moreover, we must create solutions that remedy these academic and civil rights issues. The curriculum has been and is Eurocentric ignoring the historical narratives, perspectives, literature, and accomplishments of our underserved and underrecognized students groups. While to some extent conditions have improved, an equity gap in our system remains; therefore, allowing for the perpetuation and preservation of TUSD's discriminatory history. TUSD can no longer ignore the failures of our traditional pedagogical and curricular methodologies and implementations. In order to achieve excellence we must become truly equitable in all of our approaches, practices, and policies. At the core of our new identity must exist: integrity, honesty, equity, and justice. This would provide our White  Paper:  Cultural  Responsive  Pedagogy  -­‐  DMC  –  A.  F.  Romero,  Ph.  D.   Page  2  

historically underserved students with the opportunity to finally receive the equitable and excellent education experience they truly deserve. What are the fundamental values of a culturally responsive curriculum? The fundamental values of a culturally responsive curriculum are the same as any good curriculum: accuracy, completeness, and inclusion. However, we can no longer ignore the importance of social and cultural relevance as a critical element of these values. These fundamental values become reality only when the curriculum represents a full picture of a given topic. Do we present various sources and perspectives, and do we include counter-narratives xiv that are more relevant and meaningful to our historically underserved students? We must challenge ourselves to create and deliver curricula that are accurate, complete, inclusive and culturally responsive. Theoretical Stages of Culturally Responsive Transformation There are several theoretical stages to culturally responsive curricular transformation. The stages range from slight curricular changes to a fully-revised social awareness and action conceptualizations. These theoretical stages are: Contributions Approach, Ethnic Additive Approach, Transformation Approach and Decision-Making and Social Action Approach. xv Contributions Approach The Contributions Approach is the easiest stage to integrate. In this stage ethnic and/or cultural content is limited to special days, weeks or months and focuses on certain heroes and some holidays. The teaching of ethnic or cultural issues with the use of heroes and holidays tends to gloss over important concepts and issues related to struggles against racism and for power, while trivializing ethnic cultures as a study of their eccentric and exotic characteristics, thus fortifying stereotypes and misconceptions. When the primary focus is the contributions approach, students are not helped to understand these cultural and/or ethnic groups as complete and dynamic wholes, and therefore these cultures or ethnic groups are othered xvi or given less societal and/or cultural value. Ethnic Additive Approach The Additive Approach implements cultural and/or ethnic content, concepts, themes, and perspectives to the curriculum without changing its basic structure, purposes, and characteristics. This approach is achieved by the addition of a book or unit to a course without changing it substantially. This stage is limited because of the othering effect that fails to help students to view society from diverse cultural and ethnic perspectives and to understand the ways in which the histories and cultures of the nation's diverse ethnic, racial, cultural, and religious groups are inextricably bound.

White  Paper:  Cultural  Responsive  Pedagogy  -­‐  DMC  –  A.  F.  Romero,  Ph.  D.  

Page  3  

Transformation Approach The Transformation Approach differs fundamentally from the Contributions and Additive Approaches because it requires students to view concepts, issues, themes, and problems from several ethnic perspectives and points of view. For our historically underserved students, this presents them with the opportunity to not only research, explore and intellectualize their social, cultural, and historical experiences and perspectives; most important, these experiences and perspectives are given the same cultural and curricular capital as the traditional narrative. This infusion extends student understandings of the nature, development, and complexity of U.S. society and how these convergent and even divergent perspectives and experiences have created this nation. This approach brings us closer to the delivery of curricula that is more inclusive, meaningful, accurate, holistic, and truthful. Decision-Making and Social Action Approach This stage builds onto the elements of the Transformation Approach by requiring students to make decisions and to take actions on issues related to their social condition. In this student-research based approach students name the problem, gather pertinent data, analyze their data, reexamine and rethink their ideologies and values, and create an alternative plan of action, and finally decide what, if any, actions they take will remedy the issue, if so students implement the plan. Major goals of this approach are to intellectualize students, develop their decision making capacities, to empower them, and to help them acquire a sense of civic and community responsibility and ownership. Implications In developing and implementing our culturally responsive pedagogy and curricula - we must clearly recognize and acknowledge that education is not society's panacea. However, the critically transformative endeavor upon which we embark, offers our students, our parents, our teachers, our district, and our communities a critical imperative doorway to hope. One hope offered by this transformation is simple - that in these times of: Orwellian realism, the attack on the middle class, the perpetuation of privilege, shrinking education budgets, and the attacks on public education - this transformative initiative based on inclusiveness, wholeness, accuracy, equality, and equity can still somehow against all odds make a difference.

White  Paper:  Cultural  Responsive  Pedagogy  -­‐  DMC  –  A.  F.  Romero,  Ph.  D.  

Page  4  


June1978 U.S. District Judge William Frey issues a 223-page ruling that orders TUSD to eliminate all vestiges of discrimination. 2009 U.S. District Judge


Terman, L. (1916). The measurement of intelligence: An explanation of and a complete Guide for theuseof the Stanford revision and extension of the Benet-Simon intelligence scale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Lewis, 0. (1965).Five families: Mexican case study in the culture of poverty. New York: New American Liberty. Payne, R. (2003). A framework for understanding poverty. Highlands, TX: Aha! Process Ferguson, R. (2000). What doesn't meet theeye: Understanding and addressing racial disparities in highachieving suburban schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard. Kober, N. (2001). It takes more than testing: Closing the achievement gap. Center on Education Policy. Retrieved from www.ctredpol.org/improvingpublicschools. National Center for Education Statistics(2001). Educational achievement and black-white inequality (pp. 31-43) .U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp7pubids2001061. National Center for Education Statistics. (2008). Average reading scores for Whites, Blacks and Hispanics 9 years old higher in 2008 than all previous assessments. In The Nation's Report Card, Long-term trends. Retrieved August 10, 2012, from http://nationsreportcard.gov/ltt_2008/ltt0009.asp?subtab_id=Tab_id=tab#chart). Olszewski-Kubilius, P., S. Lee, M. Ngoi, and D. Ngoi. (2004). Addressing the achievement gap between minority and nonminority children by increasing access to gifted programs. Journal for the Education of the Gifted 28(2): 127-58.

iii iv

Coley, J. (2003). Growth in school revisited: Achievement gains from the Seventh to eighth grade. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Eijkman, H. (2003b). Reframing the first-year experience: The critical role of "recognition work" in achieving curricular justice. UltiBASE. http://ultibase.rmit.edu.au/. Oyserman, D.,Altschul, I.&Bybee, D. (2006). Racial ethnic identity in mid -adolescence: Content and change as predictors of academic achievement. Child Development, 77 (5), 1155-1169. Fuligni, A.,Witkow, M. &. Garcia, C. (2005). Ethnic identity and the academic adjustment of adolescents from Mexican, Chinese, and European backgrounds. Developmental Psychology, 41 (5), 799-811.
vii vi


Romero, A. (2008). Towards a critically compassionate intellectualism model of transformative education: Love, hope, identity, and organic intellectualism through the convergence of critical race theory, critical pedagogy, and authentic caring. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Arizona. Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. Teachers College Press: New York. Ibid


ix x

Ryan, W. (1972). Blaming the Victim. New York: Vintage Books. Romero, A. (2008). Spring. J (2008). The American school: From the Puritans to no child left behind. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Ibid.

xi xii

Hawley, H. & Nieto, S. (2010). Another inconvenient truth: Race and ethnicity matter. Educational Leadership, 68(3): 66-71.
xiii xiv

Spring, 2008.

Narratives that go beyond the traditional or Eurocentric narratives (See Yosso, T. 2006. Critical race counterstories along the Chicana/Chicano educational pipeline. New York: Routledge).
xv xvi

Banks, J. (1994). Multiethnic Education: Theory and practice. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

The processes that identify those who are thought to be different from oneself or the mainstream; whereby, these thoughts can then reinforce, reproduce or produce positions of domination and subordination (see Johnson et al, 2004. Othering and being othered in the context of health care services. Health Commun, 16(2): 255-71.

White  Paper:  Cultural  Responsive  Pedagogy  -­‐  DMC  –  A.  F.  Romero,  Ph.  D.  

Page  5  

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful