Teachers must be sensitive and inclusive to all students’ cultural backgrounds, educators and advocacy organizations said during a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
The briefing, “Culturally Based Teaching: A Model for Student Success, ” provided educators and student advocates with the opportunity to share their views and provide federal policymakers with first-hand accounts on how using a culturally based education model will empower students and help close the achievement gap.
Dr. Willard Sakiestewa Gilbert, president of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), comments:
“These approaches include recognizing and utilizing native languages as a first or second language that can incorporate traditional cultural characteristics and involve teaching strategies that are harmonious with the native culture knowledge and contemporary ways of knowing and learning.”
(This comes at a time when Oregon's Secretary of State Office has released that an initiative limiting non-English language teaching in schools will appear on the ballot in November.)
The Coalition also suggests preparing more culturally teachers and recruiting and hiring more minority teachers that come from students' own communities.
Dr. Luis A. Vázquez, associate graduate school dean at New Mexico State University, said that students will be more likely to excel academically if they can relate to what is being taught.
Vázquez used his parents as an example. One only made it to the fourth grade and the other to the seventh grade. He added that the lack of cultural identity in his family members’ school curriculum was generational.
“Nothing in the textbooks looked like them, nothing related to them,” Vázquez said, adding that students today do not need to feel like “they are guests in somebody else’s house” while in school.