CP&I Newsletter #AISDequity

Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness- March 2020

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Critical Race Theory: Intersectionality

Critical Race Theory (CRT) formed from a collective movement built on the work of activists in critical legal studies and radical feminism. This month we chose to address the concept of intersectionality in honor of the women in history who have addressed the compounding of oppression when race is layered on other identities. Intersectionality theory has been co-opted, watered down, and appropriated to push people to focus on anything but race. In CP&I we choose to use Intersectionality as a conduit for the empathy required to engage in a deeper level of conversation about difference. There is a national conversation focused on black lives, women's lives and rights, and rights to be free to be who you are and not harassed or belittled or discriminated against.

Here we share some of the women who have written, spoken about and studied the term, this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Kimberlé Crenshaw, Critical Race Theorist, Black Feminist and law professor, popularized the term in 1989 as she set out to define the violence experienced by Black women in America with a look at “compound marginalization”. Crenshaw says, “Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a black woman is harmed because she is in the intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination.”

  • Follow the link to hear Kimberlé Crenshaw discuss Intersectionality at TEDWomen 2016 #SayHerName http://bit.ly/39w3seg

  • Read a recent interview with Kimberlé Crenshaw: http://bit.ly/2v79gMu
  • Gloria Anzaldúa, multi-identity, Chicana Feminist Writer, offers that, “the woman of color does not feel safe within the inner life or her Self. Petrified, she can’t respond, her face caught between los intersticios, the spaces between the different worlds she inhabits.” Anzaldúa’s work looks at histories and institutional practices around language and how the Mexican culture was systematically erased through whiteness.

  • Learn more about Gloria Anzaldúa: https://www.thoughtco.com/gloria-anzaldua-3529033

  • Dolores Delgado Bernal, Chicana Feminist Scholar encourages us to look at the system of education critically and not take the inequities we see at face value. She pushes educators to look at the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality on access to opportunity in educational research.

  • Learn more about Dolores Delgado Bernal: https://www.tcpress.com/dolores-delgado-bernal

  • Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Scholar “…plac[es] African-American women’s ideas in the center of [conversation], [to] …encourage White feminists, African-American men, and all others to investigate the similarities and differences among their own standpoints and those of African-American women.” She says, “…my hope is that others who were formerly and are currently silenced will find their voices. I, for one, certainly want to hear what they have to say.” And “Black feminist thought cannot be developed in isolation from the thoughts and actions of other groups.” She describes how even the vocabulary we use to define black feminist thought are co-opted and demeaned to a point of disempowerment for those in the struggle.

  • Learn more about Patricia Hill Collins: https://www.thoughtco.com/patricia-hill-collins-3026479

  • bell hooks, intellectual, feminist theorist, cultural critic, artist, and writer, in opposition of the parameters placed on women in a male dominated society writes her name with lowercase letters. She says “…when the child of two Black parents is coming out of the womb the factor that is considered first is skin color, then gender, because race and gender will determine that child’s fate.” hooks talks about the tension in the feminist movement to choose gender or race, both are not allowed to coexist. She chooses to hold both and not privilege one identity over the other.

  • Learn more about bell hooks: http://www.bellhooksinstitute.com/

Critical self-reflection:

How have you understood the term "intersectionality" before? Have you thought of it differently? What do you know, or how will you learn about the impacts of experiences in society at the intersection of race and gender? Act using your personal sphere of influence: Practice with a critical partner to build your voice to speak up and act when you see inequity at the intersection of identities.

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Cultural Proficiency Grant Specialist:

This position will oversee and supervise all aspects of the three-year U.S. Department of Justice Comprehensive School-Based Approach to Youth Violence and Victimization Program.
Employees in this position must be skilled in supporting the proactive equity-focused implementation of youth violence and victimization prevention, intervention and accountability in a middle and/or high school-based setting.

For more information and to apply, visit:


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How do I register to attend CP&I Professional Learning?

Austin ISD Staff

1) Search the session number in the HCP, or

2) To view all CP&I sessions in the HCP, search "cultural proficiency" and click "view all sections" under each of the three CP&I courses.

Community Members

We welcome community members to our professional learning sessions. If you are a community member interested in attending any of the CP&I sessions, please email cultural.proficiency@austinisd.org to receive an the EventBrite registration link.

No partial credit available. Please check the session times and plan accordingly.


No partial credit available. Please check the session times and plan accordingly.

Cultural Proficiency: The 6th C

April 8th session #93133

Mindfulness and Unconscious Bias

April 2nd session #93130

* Completion of Isolating Race required to register.



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CP&I Leadership Pathway- Coming Soon!

“Each of us needs to look in the mirror to notice how our particular lived experiences have shaped our beliefs, attitudes, and biases about ourselves and others. And, with increased knowledge of ourselves, we also need to look out the window to understand how racism, classism, sexism and other forms of systemic oppression operate in our institutions to create systemic advantage for some groups (white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, etc.) and disadvantage for other groups (people of color, women, LGTBQ+ people, etc.) in every sector of community life.” ~ Kathleen Osta and Hugh Vasquez, National Equity Project

The Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness (CP&I) Leadership Pathway is designed for AntiRacist educators who are actively engaged in a personal cultural proficiency journey in support of educational equity. One of six power skills for Austin ISD, cultural proficiency is the inside/out approach to how we do our work throughout the district. It is a way of being, not a program, initiative, checklist, curriculum, 5 year plan of action, one-or-two day PD, or simply the celebration of heroes and holidays. Cultural Proficiency is an understanding of who you are, your background, values, biases and beliefs, and the impact your identity has on your daily work with students, staff, and families. The facilitators will use the tools of Cultural Proficiency to guide you through critically self-reflective exercises and processes to provide self-examination resources for your journey.

Classroom teachers, look for an email soon from PPft@austinisd.org

to sign up for the CP&I Leadership Pathway!

Spots are limited, so be ready to sign up!

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SOAR: Students Organized for Anti-Racism

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Students are not the problem in our schools, they are the potential!

Student voice is essential to the work of eliminating the barriers to achieving racial equity that are often unseen or overlooked by adults. SOAR, Students Organized for Anti-Racism, is designed to empower young people of ALL races to become catalysts for change.

This month CP&I with the support of the Austin ISD Race Equity Council launched the first Austin ISD SOAR learning opportunity. SOAR is a path for student leadership development that addresses issues of race, identity, and academic achievement through meaningful and ongoing conversations between students and the adults in their schools. As students are empowered to use their voice as student equity agents, they become more visible advocates for change in their schools.

School Year 2018-19, members of the Austin ISD Race Equity Council wrote and were awarded a grant to support the learning of students. SOAR is supported by principals of O.Henry Middle, Crockett and McCallum High Schools. Students at McCallum engage in ongoing dialogue and delivered social justice learning to the staff on January 6, 2020. Students at O.Henry Middle School and Crockett High School engage in an elective student leadership course to center racial identity development, current events, courageous conversations about race, civic projects and activities aimed at addressing racial disparities in their school and Austin ISD as a whole.

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Did you know that schools can identify cultural proficiency as a school-wide goal in the yearly Campus Improvement Plan (CIP)?

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Austin ISD Principals

Need to improve campus climate data?

Wonder how to nurture culturally proficient educators on your campus?

Add a CP&I goal to the CIP and commit to learning with us in June!

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By P. Gorski and K. Swalwell

In our own teaching, as well as in our work with schools and school districts, we embrace a framework for both multi cultural curriculum development and bigger efforts to create equitable classrooms and schools. We call this framework equity literacy. Its central tenet is that any meaningful approach to diversity or multiculturalism relies more on teachers’ understandings of equity and inequity and of justice and injustice than on their understanding of this or that culture (Gorski, 2013). It relies, as well, on teachers’ abilities to cultivate in students a robust understanding about how people are treated by one another and by institutions, in addition to a general appreciation of diversity (Swalwell, 2011). The idea is to place equity, rather than culture, at the center of the diversity conversation. Key to developing equity literacy for educators and students is cultivating four abilities (Gorski, 2013). These include the ability to:

  • Recognize even subtle forms of bias, discrimination, and inequity.
  • Respond to bias, discrimination, and inequity in a thoughtful and equitable manner.
  • Redress bias, discrimination, and inequity, not only by responding to interpersonal bias, but also by studying the ways in which bigger social change happens.
  • Cultivate and sustain bias-free and discrimination-free communities, which requires an understanding that doing so is a basic responsibility for everyone in a civil society.

Click here for the full article... http://edchange.org/publications/Equity-Literacy-for-All.pdf

Critical self-reflection:

How can you cultivate equity literacy in yourself, colleagues, and students so that you're not engaging in surface-level multiculturalism that ignores the actual inequities that students face?
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The Office of Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness (CP&I) hosted the Second Education Innovation Research (EIR) Symposium: Creating and Sustaining Identity Safe Schools on February 6. It was a rich day filled with student voice and leadership, educator critical self reflection, joy, connection, and learning. Students, families, and staff from Burnet, Dobie, Garcia, Mendez, and Sadler Means middle schools, Barrington, Becker, Blanton, Blazier, Cook, and Pickle elementary schools gathered to share practice, plan next steps, and collaborate in community as we all work to implement and evaluate Culturally Responsive Restorative Practices (CRRP) at the campus-wide Tier 1 level. We were joined by our grant partners: American Institutes for Research, University of Texas - School of Education - Department of Curriculum and Instruction and Austin ISD district leadership.
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Student leaders prepping to lead circles and sit on the panel.
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Highlighting the need for self study in restorative work, we considered different aspects of our identities. Educators, parents and community members used blue dots to note aspects of their identities they think of the most and green dots to note aspects of their identities they think of the least. What aspects of your identity are frequently on your mind? Which aspects go largely unnoticed by you?
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We used the article shared in last month's CP&I newsletter as a learning anchor for the day: Fostering Identity Safety in School by Becki Cohn-Vargas.

And, the Symposium wouldn't be complete without gathering in community building circles together. Many participants got to experience a student led circle and all adult participants sat in role alike circles. In the picture below you can see the Assistant Principal, Counselor, and Coach/Specialist circle led by two Restorative Practices Associates.

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Would you like to learn more about CRRP in Austin ISD? Did you know that CP&I has an introductory Restorative Practices Blend? You can find out about the basics of our work in course CPI.44971 Section 86636. There are resources and information about the philosophical and theoretical foundation of the work as well as activities to help you reflect on your campus's current practices.
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Past CP&I Newsletters

February 2020 https://www.smore.com/yvg51

January 2020 https://www.smore.com/3y6ex

December 2019 https://www.smore.com/5f2t9

November 2019 https://www.smore.com/n0x65

October 2019 https://www.smore.com/7te4p

September 2019 https://www.smore.com/7z9hk

Follow us on Twitter and mention #AISDEquity when sharing about

your learning and engagements in #AISDEquity work.

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