"This is a book I didn′t know I needed until I read it. But now that I have read it, I will read it again and again with my leadership team. The authors have provided some powerful lessons about transformative leadership through personal stories that are moving, compelling and captivating."
—Sarah Jerome, Superintendent
Arlington Heights School District 25, IL
"The authors serve as wonderful role models for young women of color, who will enjoy reading about where the authors come from and how far they have gone. Their insightful stories will contribute to the development of more female leaders in our country."
—Daniel Domenech, Executive Director
American Association of School Administrators
"Franco, Ott and Robles share three compelling stories that answer both the why and how questions concerning the urgent need for culturally proficient learning experiences for every American student."
—Robert Hill, Director of Education Initiatives
The Ball Foundation
Three successful superintendents share how to educate all students
Extending democracy into schools so that every child has the opportunity to achieve is the topic of many books and conversations. The three Latina superintendents who coauthored this book do more than discuss the issue of equity in education—they live it. They grew up affected by it, taught students who needed it, and changed the minds of those who resisted it. These trailblazing women chronicle their childhoods, careers, and challenges and share their vision to transform schools into places of equity and excellence. They use the lens of cultural proficiency to enhance readers′ understanding of:
- Barriers to educational opportunity and equity
- Conditions that help promote success for underserved students
- Ways to leverage culture as an asset
- Links between high-quality education for some and excellence for all learners
A Culturally Proficient Society Begins in School is filled with reflective prompts, self-check protocols, and other tools for deep and meaningful professional learning. Not only do these remarkable women serve as role models for students from all cultures, their success stories are a source of inspiration to all educators who aspire to extend the promises of democracy to every North American student.
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About the Author
Maria G. Ott, Ph.D. started a new phase in her distinguished educational career when she joined the USC Rossier School of Education in October 2012. Maria G. Ott served more than seven years as Superintendent of the Rowland Unified School District, leading the district through major instructional improvement initiatives and modernization of facilities. She is nationally known for establishing partnerships with private foundations in support of Rowland Unified and its strategic plan and efforts to reach high levels of literacy and raise student achievement, placing Rowland Unified on the national stage and forefront of educational transformation movements. Rowland Unified serves the cities of La Puente, Walnut, West Covina, City of Industry, unincorporated Valinda and unincorporated Rowland Heights. Dr. Ott was selected as Superintendent in July 2005, following a national search. Prior to joining Rowland Unified, Dr. Ott served five years as the Senior Deputy Superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), second in authority to Superintendent Roy Romer, former three-term Governor of Colorado.
At USC, Maria G. Ott, Ph.D. serves as Executive in Residence, teaching graduate level courses and participating in Rossier School of Education initiatives. In her role at USC, Dr. Ott will draw upon her extensive experience as an educator in urban and suburban districts, including her work on cultural proficiency as detailed in her recently released book, A Culturally Proficient Society Begins in School: Leadership for Equity, with co-authors Carmella S. Franco and Darline P. Robles. Dr. Ott has presented to national audiences on the topic of her book and continues to contribute to the educational literature about the importance of cultural proficiency in closing achievement gaps.
Dr. Ott represents the Rossier School of Education as a member of the Greater Crenshaw Education Partnership Board (GCEP), serving as Vice-Chairperson. In this role, Dr. Ott will assist the GCEP Board in fulfilling the partnership agreement in support of goals established for Crenshaw High School. The GCEP partnership brings together USC, the Los Angeles Urban League, and the Bradley Foundation to address reform efforts designed to improve student academic achievement. As an experienced Superintendent, Dr. Ott brings extensive experience to her Board responsibilities.
Dr. Ott was recruited to serve as the educational deputy to Superintendent Romer in 2000. Dr. Ott returned to LAUSD after seven years as the Superintendent of the Little Lake City School District, serving the cities of Santa Fe Springs, Norwalk and southeastern Downey. During her tenure, she was known for her accomplishments in improving student achievement, utilizing strategic planning to align resources to district priorities, and achieving excellence in governance with her Board. Selected as a member of the prestigious Annenberg Superintendents’ group, she led a major reform initiative in Little Lake as a recipient of an Annenberg grant. She is highly regarded throughout the state’s educational community for her strong leadership, her commitment to public education and her proven results working with children from diverse and multi-ethnic backgrounds.
Maria G. Ott earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Mount St. Mary’s College and completed her doctoral studies at the University of Southern California, majoring in Educational Policy, Planning and Administration. Prior to her appointment as Superintendent of Little Lake, Maria Ott worked in the Los Angeles Unified School District as a teacher, principal, and central office administrator in the Office of Instruction. Her accomplishments included improving student achievement as a principal, and national recognition for her leadership in improving educational outcomes and programs for English language learners.
Dr. Ott has earned numerous awards, including: AEOE Outstanding Administrator Award; AMAE Homenaje a la Mujer Recipient; Lamplighter in Education Recognition, Mount St. Mary’s College; Distinguished Educator, California State University, Los Angeles; Educational Leadership Award, Council of Mexican American Administrators; Hispanic Woman of the Year Award, Mexican American Opportunity Foundation; USC Rossier School of Education R.O.S.E. Award; Mount St. Mary’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and La Opinion Mujeres Destacadas Award, CABE 2009 Administrator of the Year Award.
Darline P. Robles, Ph.D., is currently a Professor of Clinical Education at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. Her primary responsibility is the development of new Masters degree program for school leadership. She recently retired from the Los Angeles County Office of Education where she served as County Superintendent of Schools for eight years. As the top education leader of the nation's most populous and diverse county, she ensured the financial and academic stability of 80 school districts that serve more than two million preschool and school age children. She was the first woman and Latina to be named Superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education in 2002. Prior to being named superintendent of LACOE, Dr. Robles was the chief of the Salt Lake City School District for close to eight years, where she was recognized for raising student achievement, significantly reducing the drop-out rate and securing vital resources for needy schools. Earlier, as Superintendent of the Montebello Unified School District, she saved the district from a state take-over by returning it to financial stability within two years. A native Californian, she began her 30 year plus education career as an intern at Los Padrinos Juvinile Hall at LACOE, as a teacher in Montebello, coordinator of bilingual and bicultural education and as an elementary and intermediate school principal and assistant superintendent.
Table of ContentsForeword by Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, PhD
About the Authors
1. The Why of This Book
2. Pueblo, Kronach, and East Los Angeles: Our Beginnings
3. Conversations With the Superintendents: The Teacher Years
4. Conversations With the Superintendents: The Administrator Years
5. Lessons Learned: Acknowledging Barriers, Recognizing Cultural Assets
6. Lessons Learned: Cultural Assets Inform Actions
7. Developing Your Leadership for Equity Plan