According to Jack O’Connell (cited in Mangaliman, 2007), California state superintendent ot public instruction and based on the 2007 Standardized Testing and Reporting program (STAR), Santa Clara County has the best overall rating In the state with regard to standardized test scores. Though this may be true. African American and Latina/o students within this county remain at the lower end with only 30 percent of African American students scoring at proficient or above compared to 8 percent of disadvantaged White students scoring proficient and above.
Even when African American students are not economically disadvantaged, they score below disadvantaged/poor White students (Mangaliman, 2007). Gay (2002) acknowledged that the disparity of underperformance from underserved students is not due to the student alone, but Instead stems from the teachers’ teaching style and the subtle prejudices expressed within these particular teacher-student relationships. This is elucidated by Murrell (2006) who noted, in schools where Caucasian teachers are teaching students of color, there should be building-level Inquiry Into Institutional racism In order to enhance teacher-student relationships (p. 8).
This is something being done at the college in which I work, but because there seems to be no mandate for faculty to attend professional development workshops, there is no guarantee we will capture the faculty who unquestionably need to gain skills In working with students from different cultures. Institutional racism Is the systematic oppression of others. It is the way in which access comes to be denied to certain groups such that if one would like to attend an institution of higher ducation, a private club, a particular career setting, they are systematically kept out.
Institutional racism Is often covert and works to keep certain groups from being successful. Kennedy (2009) pointed out because one cannot blame a singular person for the lack of success of groups, institutional racism bears itself as being extremely oppressive and a difficult challenge because it is embedded within institutions (i. e. , institutional racism). Institutional racism is illegal, unlawful and discriminatory in that if one Is seeking social Justice within the education system and there Is known nstitutional racism, the policies that guide the education system must be changed.
The problem is, most often there is no certainty that institutional racism is what is happening. “They [teachers] help to maintain a culture by relating to the students what happened In the past, what was and Is Important, and what members of the culture must know (Klopf. 2001 What happens when the Information of the past is colored with half-truths and little to no history regarding all students being taught? Some students come to classify or identify them and their group in that half-truthed way (I. e.
If an African American student Is only told their ancestors were slaves, they can not find pride in being a part of that group unless they seek out the truth) What happens when what the school district regards as important for students to know is not important to the student? For example, why is it important for students to take all ‘ kinesiology? Those of us with a bit more life experience may be able to answer this question easily, but students don’t necessarily have that life experience or know-how in tying the pieces of knowledge together.
Currently, a northern California community ollege has taken steps to regulate the retention problem of underrepresented students of color by taking a closer look at the work undertaken by faculty in the classroom as well as staff and administration. This is being done through the Basic Skills Initiative (BSI). Although the problem is not purely one of basic skills, it is these classrooms where students come to be encouraged or discouraged in higher education due to the high numbers of underrepresented students who place into BSI courses their freshman year.
The BSI was constructed for use within all California ommunity colleges. It is a statewide initiative funded by the Title Ill grant. The BSI creates a space for basic skills teachers to get resources to help improve the success rates of underperforming students. These underperforming students are often ill- prepared for the basic skills courses of English/writing and mathematics, and are overwhelmingly composed of African American, Latina/o, and Asian Pacific Islander students.
LeBleu-Burns and Anderson (2008) administered the BSI self-assessment tool online to all faculty, staff, and administrators to obtain a global view of the roblems faced within the college and to find out how the institutional effort of achieving 26 effective practices worked. Three areas of focus that emerged from the BSI were: a) staff development, b) integration of current programs and services, and c) cultural competence. This literature review will address the use of cultural competencies and the outcomes as potential staff development ideas for the college to uphold its mission and direction for faculty.
This literature review may also offer the opportunity to strengthen and implement programs and services in a more fluid fashion. The first outcome of the BSI is staff development. The college has had a staff development coordinator position unfilled for almost 2 years. A vacant staff development position is problematic because faculty, staff, and administration believe staff development to be important to the BSI. If there is no one in the position of Staff Development Coordinator, faculty and staff will not be trained effectively, or in the case of the college; staff development opportunities have become few.