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School Reform that is Culturally Relevant

January 16th, 2013 · No Comments

At a basic level, those that argue for cultural relevance take what is good from two schools of thought, from traditional education in the concrete push for measurable achievement and from critical education in the pragmatic push for contextual relevance in the act of teaching and learning. However, at its most significance, culturally relevant pedagogues make a case for education as a civil rights movement where achievement is not only about capitalism, it is about social justice.

As argued by Ladson-Billings (2009), Dantley (2005) and Delpit (1998) education reform is not just a bottom up endeavor. It is also top down. It is about understanding the pulse and priorities of the people being served and ensuring that education agendas, policies and standards reflect their priorities. As a result, a redefined scope of achievement that transforms the sociopolitical status of disadvantaged communities… in real time (where it is contextually relevant in the present tense) … and is concrete and measurable needs to be incorporated into the close the achievement gap campaign.

Let’s not just close the achievement gap! Let’s close the perception gap as pertaining to how achievement is defined and pursued…especially for those communities that are at a socioeconomic disadvantage.

For assistance with culturally relevant programming and professional development, contact us here.


Dantley, M. (2005). African American spirituality and Cornel West’s notion of prophetic pragmatism: Restructuring educational leadership in American urban schools. Educational Administration Quarterly. Retrieved from

Delpit, L. (1988). The silenced dialogue: Power and pedagogy in educating other people’s children. Harvard Educational Review, 58(3), 280. ProQuest.

Ladson-Billings, G. (2009). The dream keepers: Successful teachers of African American children. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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