A look at Critical Race Theory vs. Cultural Proficiency

After attending a monthly luncheon and hearing some attendees pass on (incorrectly) information about Critical Race Theory (CRT) and how it is affecting students in Caddo Parish Schools, I felt it was necessary to opine the extensive research I’ve completed on CRT. Critical race theory is a field of intellectual inquiry that demonstrates the legal codification of racism in America. Through the study of law and U.S. history, it attempts to reveal how racial oppression shaped the legal fabric of the U.S. “Critical race theory is traditionally less concerned with how racism manifests itself in interactions with individuals and more concerned with how racism has been, and is, codified into the law.” – David Miguel Gray CRT is not taught in any of Caddo Parish Schools, nor is African American history.

Versa Clark
Versa Clark

Comparatively, Cultural Proficiency is about educating all students to high levels through knowing, valuing, and using as assets their cultural backgrounds, languages, and learning styles within the context of our teaching. My first introduction to CP was when I taught H.S. Social Studies in Albuquerque. Major cultures were Hispanic Anglo, Native American, African American and Asian. According to my copy of Cultural Proficiency:  A Manual for School Leaders, Third Edition 2009 Lindsey, Robins, and Terrell, “Cultural proficiency is a model for shifting the culture of the school or district; it is a model for individual transformation and organizational change. Cultural proficiency is a mindset, a worldview, and a way a person or an organization makes assumptions for effectively describing, responding to, and planning for issues that arise in diverse environments. For some people, cultural proficiency is a paradigm shift from viewing cultural difference as problematic to learning how to interact effectively with other cultures.”  My viewpoint is that the CP model needs to be an integral part of the learning process in Caddo Parish Schools.

Having attended BRF’s annual event and hearing renowned geopolitical strategist, Peter Zeihan speak on a Collapse of Globalization, we need CP to be able to accomplish whatever limited/unlimited opportunities Shreveport’s SMSA will have in the very near and future times.  Although energy (oil and gas) was central in explaining what nations are best equipped to survive/thrive through a collapse, Shreveport as a regional economy has something Texas does not have, trees. Many are unaware that Timber and not Oil and Gas is Louisiana’s number one product.  Some things have already begun to take shape, like the Teal-Jones Sawmill in Plain Dealing.  The demand for wood and wood-based products is scheduled to continue in the U.S. and until we can get industrial hemp grown and processed, these types of investments appear to be the answer to the demand.

Back in 1992 while substitute teaching a biology class at Atkins Elementary, I noticed the students were bored with the assignments that did not allow them to get their hands dirty.  A proposal was written to construct a nursery that would allow the students to grow vegetables and small growth (height) fruit trees in the fall and winter and tree seedlings in the spring, just before Earth Day (April 22) that the business community would purchase to be planted in the timber growing areas of Northwest Louisiana.  Funds raised for their project would be reinvested to improve and expand the nursery.

Cultural proficiency can be achieved through this project by holding the vision that the educator and the school are instruments for creating a socially just democracy; interacting with colleagues, students, their families, and their communities as an advocate for lifelong learning to serving effectively the educational needs of all cultural groups.

This article originally appeared on Shreveport Times: A look at Critical Race Theory vs. Cultural Proficiency