Thursday, May 05, 2005

Cultural Competence

I attended the May meeting of the Executive Club last night and heard Oregon State Representative Linda Flores speak on Oregon Senate bill 50, dubbed the "Cultural Competency" bill because of its 3rd clause in section 1 that states: "...the commission shall establish standards for cultural competency and require an applicant for a teaching license to meet those standards." The $64,000 question, of course, is what in the world is cultural competency?

To answer that question let's first go back to see what spurred the creation of this bill. One year ago the Oregon Department of Education, Teacher Standards and Practices commission, Oregon University System, the Eugene School district LEAD Project, and the Oregon State Action for Education Leadership, with a $600,000 grant from the Wallace Foundation of New York, convened the Invitational Summit on Cultural Competency. The summit produced its definition of cultural competency in a 50+ page report, and its 5-year work plan for its infusion in Oregon's education system. According to this report "cultural competency" requires that individuals and organizations: A) Have a defined set of values and principles, demonstrated behaviors, attitudes, policies and structures that enable them to work effectively in a cross-cultural manner. B) Demonstrate the capacity to 1) value diversity, 2) engage in self-reflection, 3) facilitate effectively (manage) the dynamics of difference, 4) acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge, 5) adapt to the diversity and cultural contexts of the students, families, and communities they serve, 6) support actions which foster equity of opportunity and services. C) Institutionalize, incorporate, evaluate, and advocate the above in all aspects of leadership, policy-making, administration, practice, and service delivery while systematically inolving staff, students, families, key stakeholders, and communities.

Upon reading this, it's obvious that the ideological impetus at work here is multiculturalism, a noxious theory that has already been thorougly inculcated in the public school curriculum and popular orthodox liberal thought. Embedded in the report, however, are political ideas far more toxic. On page 3 of the report it says, "...cultural competence entails actively challenging the status quo and advocating for equity and social justice." The term *social jusice* has become a shibboleth of the left, and I recommend to all that they read Thomas Sowell's "The Quest for Cosmic Justice" for a full explaination of how fatuous and empty the term really is. Despite its poverty of meaning, the term's affinity with leftist and socialist ideas is well known, and this is no exception. On page 8 more of the true intent of the writers is revealed in a list of what cultural competency means for teachers:

A culturally competent teacher advocates for social justice.

A culturally competent teacher understands the ways schools reproduce inequallity.

The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission will revise rules, after review, to achieve high cultural competency standards including possible REVOCATION OF LICENSURE for culturally incompetent behavior.

The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission will require cultural competence for license renewal.

A culturally competent teacher must apply cultural competencies and BELIEVE IT.
(emphasis added)

Multiculturalism is a poisonous doctrine that his been carefully infused in almost every aspect of not only American public education, but popular media as well. With this legislation, however, the true believers within the Oregon educational system have an opportunity to establish an ideological "purity" test with which they can purge their ranks from all of questionable faith. Not only will their definition of competence become the criteria for hiring new teachers, but they will be able to revisit the employment of teachers of long standing. All who do not share their vision of a radically egalitarian society of "social justice" and "equity" (read redistribution of wealth here), will be labeled "culturally incompetent" and shown the door.

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