Should teacher professional development and preparation include standards for teachers to be culturally competent especially when working in diverse educational settings? It seems that the ethnicity and income status of the teaching population in public schools does not reflect the U.S. population of students in schools for race/ethnicity and income status. In order for schools to close the achievement gap, I would agree with the argument that teachers must be culturally competent in instruction and family engagement, and especially inclusive of the needs of students from high-poverty, high risk and culturally diverse communities. Teachers must be prepared to address the considerable diversity in experiences that children bring with them to school (Darling-Hammond, Wise & Klein, 1997).
In an article by Marie Byrd-Blake and Brooke Schulte-Olivieri, Operation 2014: Developing Culturally Competent Teachers for a Diverse Society, the authors propose a new model for U. S. teacher professional development and preparation that is inclusive of the needs of students from high-poverty, high risk and culturally diverse communities. The premise of the model is based on the following underlying assumptions that culturally competent teachers should:
• Engage in self reflection, and thus step outside of their worldview, to discern how their experiences and cultural backgrounds affect what they perceive and interpret about the race, culture and ethnicity of students in their classrooms.
• Understand acknowledge and appreciate the historical impact of race and class in U.S. Education and its legacies.
• Manage the dynamics of difference within the classroom by understanding the dynamics of the differences among their students and the differences between their students and their personal lives.
• Are aware of the impact that teacher expectations have on the ability of students of all races and classes to achieve academic success and begin to facilitate instruction based on high expectations that all children can learn.
• Acquire and demonstrate skills in positive behavior management that instills positive self-concept, character and leadership in children from all races and cultures.
• Initiate and facilitate parental involvement programs that encourage parent/guardian participation in learning. Collaborate with colleagues to work together to meet the needs of students and families from various races, ethnicities and cultures.
• Engage in self-management techniques that reduce stress and improve professionalism and interpersonal skills.
• Accelerate student learning and develop instructional strategies to motivate students to become proficient lifelong readers and writers.
• Engage in instructional strategies that engage students in higher order critical thinking.
I believe that there should be cultural competency standards for teachers that are taught and practiced in professional development and teacher preparation programs. This would ensure the cultural competence of teachers in pre-K-12 education settings with children of high poverty and/or diverse backgrounds, so that students may achieve high academic goals. By having standards for cultural competency I believe it will help to close the achievement gap. Do you think teachers should be held accountable for meeting cultural competency standards?