Sue Kaiser (Region 15 and CASCD President-Elect), Angel Barrett (A.J. Barrett and Associates), Shane Shuurmans (Partner for Purpose Elevo), Edgar Zazueta (Executive Director, ACSA), Simone Charles (Cultural Proficiency Coordinator, Conference Chair) and Erin Simon (ACSA State President) were among the leaders promoting cultural proficiency at the Museum of Tolerance.
Region 16 Cultural Proficiency Conference draws school leaders together for ‘One Voice, One Love’
April 10, 2023
Region 16 held its second annual cultural proficiency conference at the Museum of Tolerance. The conference title “One Voice, One Love” reflects the “Evidence that diversified individual voices can unite as one with love being our collective anchor,” explained Region 16 Cultural Proficiency Coordinator and Conference Chair Simone Charles. “Despite coming from different places, our experiences have overlapping similarities, and at times intersect. It is in that space that we must see the beauty of our individual cultures while recognizing the beauty within others.”
The conference united ACSA members from seven regions across the state around cultural proficiency, as well as ACSA Executive Director Edgar Zazueta and ACSA President Erin Simon, who were also in attendance.
“We are at a tipping point in education,” Simon said. “The conference highlighted the urgent need to prepare the next generation of leaders to unwaveringly and unapologetically create equitable and culturally responsive educational spaces so students furthest from justice will graduate future ready with opportunities.”
In 2021, Region 16 added three coordinators: Cultural Proficiency, Women’s Leadership and Communication to their Executive Board and bylaws. Former Region 16 President Angel Barrett proposed the additions to the bylaws to “reflect the values and mission of the organization.” Cultural proficiency was chosen to embrace the work of Randall and Delores Lindsey whose continuum and tools systemically move organizations through the barriers to proficiency.
“Cultural proficiency is not about just valuing our own diversity but also embracing the diversity of others, and we must understand that being culturally proficient is not a ‘you are here’ place. One cannot remain stagnant — cultural proficiency must constantly be sought,” Charles said. Quoting from the Lindseys’ “Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders,” “As a culturally proficient school leader, it is important for you to understand what does exist before you can begin to understand what should exist.” (Gerioux, 1992b). The Lindseys have worked with Barrett, Charles and Region 16 to provide professional development through conferences, book studies and brown bag lunches.
“...We must understand that being culturally proficient is not a ‘you are here’ place ... cultural proficiency must constantly be sought.”
— Simone Charles, Region 16 Cultural Proficiency Coordinator and Conference Chair
Barrett also brought the Museum of Tolerance into Region 16 by utilizing their speaker series during the pandemic. With speakers such as Lloyd Wilkey, dialogue facilitator, Terrance Roberts, one of the Little Rock 9, and Victor Rios, sociologist/professor/author, Region 16 built a robust calendar of equity speakers. Once restrictions were lifted, Region 16 held the first Cultural Proficiency Conference live at the Museum of Tolerance in 2022.
Although the Museum of Tolerance is located in Los Angeles, it offers professional development across the state. The museum provides speakers, online training and customized professional in-person visitations. The museum’s state grants provide free professional development including travel expenses for persons over 50 miles from the MOT. To sign up for current programs, further information or to plan professional development, visit museumoftolerance.com/educators for links and to contact the museum directly. The Museum of Tolerance education staff will work with schools and districts to customize professional learning, including travel paid by state grants, for any educational organization in California.
The conference feedback was all positive, with many participants noting that they planned to follow up with professional development for their schools or districts. The only suggestions were “make it longer” and “more, more, more.”
“It is important that we are present and supporting initiatives such as this conference that can have a profound impact on a district’s efforts to foster a more inclusive and equitable learning environment,” said Amy Callahan, trustee, Ventura Unified School District. “I know I am looking forward to sharing and considering how we can partner, maybe even bring our own team to the Museum of Tolerance.”
The third annual conference will be announced for February 2024. All ACSA members are welcome to attend.
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