Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders

Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders

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Our students’ futures depend upon it: If we’re to guarantee equitable access and improved academic outcomes for our historically underserved students, then we must first confront the deeply rooted biases and practices that for far too long have limited them. That’s where Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders has already benefited tens of thousands of schools leaders--and the students, teachers, and communities they serve.  

Cultural Proficiency helps us all establish a mindset and worldview for effectively describing and responding to inequities. Its inside-outside approach to leadership is grounded in the assumption that honest introspection is a requirement to leading equity-driven change. And now, with updated content, new case studies, expanded vignettes, new activities and study guides, and an updated matrix, this fourth edition is more urgently needed than ever.  

What leaders love most is the way Cultural Proficiency lays the groundwork for powerful organizational growth with resources to: 

  • Engage colleagues in collaborative dialogue about creating powerful teaching and learning environments
  • Recognize and respond to both individual and group differences to break down barriers
  • Use the Cultural Proficiency Continuum to assess the limitations of school practices and identify opportunities to shift the culture 

Take this first step on the Cultural Proficiency journey and soon enough you, too, can create equitable educational opportunities and more inclusive environments in which differences are embraced. 

“This book is a riveting and unparalleled resource for all educational merchants of hope. . . . The insights, learning strategies, and professional development structures in this edition illuminate a path for all leaders to successfully commit to the journey of being equity champions!”

--Dr. Erick E. Witherspoon, National Director of Equity Professional Development Services
Generation Ready 

“There is no greater honor than to have one’s professional work become the inspiration for a new way of thinking, and transformative literature and action that change the world for schools and the children and youth they serve. I am grateful that the ideas have been so skillfully brought to scale by these authors.”
--Dr. Terry L. Cross, MSW, Founder and Senior Advisor
National Indian Child Welfare Association 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781506390550
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Publication date: 08/02/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 718,991
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Randall B. Lindsey is Emeritus Professor at California State University, Los Angeles. He has served as a teacher, an administrator, executive director of a non-profit corporation, as Interim Dean at California Lutheran University, as Distinguished Educator in Residence at Pepperdine University, and as Chair of the Education Department at the University of Redlands. Prior to that he served for seventeen years at California State University, Los Angeles in the Division of Administration and Counseling. All of Randy’s experiences have been in working with diverse populations and his area of study is the behavior of white people in multicultural settings. His Ph.D. is in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University, his Master of Arts in Teaching is in History Education from the University of Illinois, and his B.S. in Social Science Education is from Western Illinois University. He has served as a junior high school and high school teacher and as an administrator in charge of school desegregation efforts. At Cal State, L.A. he served as Chair of the Division of Administration and Counseling and as Director of the Regional Assistance Centers for Educational Equity, a regional race desegregation assistance center. With co-authors he has written several books and articles on Cultural Proficiency. Most recent publication is The Cultural Proficiency Manifesto: Finding Clarity Amidst the Noise.

Kikanza Nuri-Robins helps people to close the gap between what they say they are and what they actually do.  Whether she is in a corporate boardroom, the fireside room of a retreat center, or a convention center auditorium, Kikanza uses her skills and insights to help people and organizations that are in transition – or ought to be.  She shares her observations and recommendations with clarity and candor, while gently encouraging them to face the difficult situations that challenge their skill sets and their values.  She leads people to this growing edge with unswerving focus, an understanding heart, and laughter that rises from the seat of her soul.


Since 1978, Kikanza has worked as an organizational development consultant in a variety of settings includ­ing education, health care, criminal justice, and religion, focusing on leadership development, change management, and cultural proficiency. Her clients range from school districts, to university faculty, to government offices and non-profit organizations.  The connecting thread is her passion for working with people who want to making a difference for others.


Kikanza studied at Occidental College, the University of Southern California, and the San Francisco Theological Seminary.  She is the author of many articles and five books, including: Cultural Proficiency and Culturally Proficient Responses to the LGBT Communities. Kikanza lives in Los Angeles where she spends her discretionary time as a textile artist.

Raymond D. Terrell is a Professor Emeritus. He has served as a high school and junior high school English teacher, an elementary school principal, and an assistant superintendent in public schools in Ohio. He spent one year as a faculty member at Texas A&M University in the Department of Educational Administration. He spent 19 years at California State University, 14 years in the Department of Educational Administration, and for 5 years he was the Dean of the School of Education. He then served for three years as an elementary principal at Jefferson Elementary School in Hamilton, Ohio. Ray then joined the faculty at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where he served as a professor in the Educational Leadership Department, Associate Dean for the College of Education Health and Society and as Chair of the Teacher Education Department. Ray has 50 years of professional experience with diversity and equity issues. He has served school districts in California, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Ray writes about issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Ray lives in Springfield Township, Ohio with his wife Eloise. They have two adult children, Dina and William. 

Delores B. Lindsey, Ph.D., retired as Assistant Professor of Educational Administration, at California State University, San Marcos. However, she has not retired from the educational profession. Using the lens of Cultural Proficiency, Dr. Lindsey helps educational leaders examine their policies and practices, as well as their individual beliefs and values about cross-cultural communication.  Delores’ message to her audiences focuses on socially just educational practices and diversity as assets to be nurtured. Dr. Lindsey coaches educators to develop their own inquiry and action research.  Her favorite reflective questions are: Who are we?  and Are we who we say we are? She serves schools, districts, and county offices as an Adaptive Schools Training Associate, a Cognitive Coach Training Associate, and a consultant to develop culturally  proficient  educators and schools. Her recent publications include A Culturally Proficient response to the common core: Ensuring equity through professional learning (2015, Lindsey, Kearney, Estrada, & Lindsey); and Culturally Proficient inclusive schools: All means all! (2018, Lindsey, Thousand, Jew & Piowlski).

Table of Contents

Preface to the Fourth Edition
Foreword to the Third Edition
Foreword to the Second Edition
Foreword to the First Edition
About the Authors
1. Cultural Proficiency
Cultural Proficiency: An Inside-Out Approach to Difference
The Four Tools
A Historical Context
Why Would I or My School Want to Engage?
Learning and Educating Effectively
Living in a Global Community
Participating in the Community
Culturally Proficient Leadership: Diversity “Is”
Resources for Developing Culturally Proficient Leaders
Read the Text First
Cultural Proficiency Books’ Essential Questions
Going Deeper: Reflection
Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions
2. A Cultural and Historical Context for Our Unfolding Democracy
An Inside-Out Approach
What It Takes
Culture Is . . .
What Happened to Race?
The Legacy of Segregation and Exclusion
A History of Caste in the United States
Labels for Historically Oppressed People
From Segregation to Cultural Proficiency
Culture and History Provide Perspective
Going Deeper: Reflection
Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions
3. Leadership for Today’s Schools
Our Journey With Culturally Proficient Leaders
Culturally Proficient Leadership: Exploring Deeply Held Values for Equity
Shared Vision
Long-Term, Systemic Change: Finding Leverage Points for Acti
Limitations of Local School Change Initiatives
Inside-Out Approach to Change: Why Leaders Ask Why?
Cultural Proficiency as a Frame for Change
Culturally Proficient Leadership Is Transformative
Continuum as a Guide: Creating Initial Awareness Is Cultural Precompetence
Tools for Change
Formal and Nonformal Leaders
Culturally Proficient Leaders Focus on Inequities
Going Deeper: Reflection
Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions
4. Framing Your Work With the Tools of Cultural Proficiency
The Important First Step: Inside-Out Change
Cultural Proficiency Conceptual Framework
The Four Tools of Cultural Proficiency
Going Deeper: Reflection
Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions
5. The Tool: Overcoming Barriers
Barriers to Cultural Proficiency
This Chapter Is for Everyone
Caveat: Systemic Oppression
Caveat: Privilege and Entitlement
Caveat: Unawareness of the Need to Adapt
Changing Educational Practices
Culturally Proficient Educators
Overcoming Resistance
Very Good News
Going Deeper: Reflection
Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions
6. The Tool: The Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency
Cultural Proficiency as an Expression of Values
Principle: Culture Is Ever Present
Principle: People Are Served in Varying Degrees by the Dominant Culture
Principle: People Have Group Identities and Personal Identities
Principle: Diversity Within Cultures Is Important
Principle: Each Group Has Unique Cultural Needs That Must Be Respected
Principle: The Family, as Defined by Each Culture, Is the Primary System of Support in the Education of Children
Principle: People Who Are Not a Part of the Dominant Culture Have to Be at Least Bicultural
Principle: Inherent in Cross-Cultural Interactions Are Social and Communication Dynamics That Must Be Acknowledged, Adjusted to, and Accepted
Principle: The School System Must Incorporate Cultural Knowledge Into Practice and Policymaking
Make It Count
Going Deeper: Reflection
Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions
7. The Tool: The Cultural Proficiency Continuum
Macro- and Microaggressions
The Continuum
Going Deeper: Reflection
Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions
8. The Tool: The Essential Elements
The Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency
Finding Leverage for School Leadership
Going Deeper: Reflection
Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions
9. Commit to Action
So Where Do You Start?
You Are Here
Action Through Transformative Collaborative Inquiry
Design the Inquiry
Going Deeper: Reflection
Going Deeper: Dialogic Questions
10. A Note to Those Preparing School Leaders
Historical Overview
Legacy in Part
Transformative Leadership Is Inclusive Leadership
Systemic Leadership and Tools of Cultural Proficiency
Achievement Gaps, Disproportionality, and Our Preparation Programs
Call to Action
Introduction to Learning Strategies
Do Your Own Work
Believe It
Be Able to Work Without the Script
Set the Tone
Take Time to Process
Use Small Groups
Work in Teams
Develop Your Own Style
Be Prepared for Trouble
Have Fun
Resource A: Understanding Diversity
Learning Strategy 1: Telling Your Stories
Learning Strategy 2: Diversity in Your Life
Learning Strategy 3: Stand Up
Learning Strategy 4: Line Up
Resource B: Getting to Know Myself
Learning Strategy 1: Journaling
Learning Strategy 2: Diversity Lifeline
Learning Strategy 3: Name Five Things
Learning Strategy 4: Who Are You?
Learning Strategy 5: Who Am I?
Learning Strategy 6: Cultural Portrait
Learning Strategy 7: Identities
Learning Strategy 8: Group Stereotypes
Learning Strategy 9: The Process of Personal Change
Learning Strategy 10: Seven Dynamics of Change
Learning Strategy 11: Paradigms
Learning Strategy 12: Strength Bombardment
Resource C: Getting to Know Your Colleagues and Your Organization
Learning Strategy 1: Introductory Grid
Learning Strategy 2: Cultural Perceptions
Learning Strategy 3: What’s in a Name?
Learning Strategy 4: Totems or Crests
Learning Strategy 5: Family Portrait
Learning Strategy 6: Group Stereotypes
Learning Strategy 7: Circle of History
Learning Strategy 8: Storytelling
Learning Strategy 9: Voices That Resonate
Learning Strategy 10: Needs Assessment
Resource D: Understanding Power and Privilege
Learning Strategy 1: Barriers to Cultural Proficiency
Learning Strategy 2: Describe a Culturally Incompetent Organization
Learning Strategy 3: A Survey of Privilege and Entitlement
Learning Strategy 4: Listening and Hearing
Learning Strategy 5: Seven-Minute Day
Resource E: Going Deeper With the Principles
Learning Strategy 1: Guiding Principles Discussion Starters
Learning Strategy 2: Family Values
Learning Strategy 3: My Work Values
Learning Strategy 4: Examining Your Organizational Values
Resource F: Going Deeper With the Continuum
Learning Strategy 1: Cultural Proficiency Continuum
Learning Strategy 2: Exploring Behaviors Along the Continuum
Resource G: Going Deeper With the Essential Elements
Learning Strategy 1: Using the Essential Elements
Learning Strategy 2: Essential Elements of Culturally Proficient Leaders
Learning Strategy 3: Cultural Competence Self-Assessment
Resource H: Book Study Guide
Resource I: Cultural Proficiency Books’ Essential Questions
Suggested Foundational Readings

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