Monday, April 18, 2005

Cultural Competency: Not just for public schools

With much ballyhoo over SB 50 (requiring teachers to be "culturally competent"), which was heard about on the Lars Larson Show and here on previous posts, little attention has been paid to what other government agencies have been bitten by the "culturally competent" bug. So what state/local departments will be judging people not by the content of their character but by their skin color or who they like to have sex with? Let's take a look:

Multnomah County Department of County Human Services Cultural Competency Plan Standards and Self-Assessment (PDF)
A. Agency staff, management and board reflect as closely as possible the ethnicity and culture of the population the agency serves.
PASS/FAIL Agency is able to determine that agency staff reflects the demographics of the service area population and/or clients actually served. Data source must be named. An agency may pass if the response to these criteria includes the development and implementation of a data collection system within six months.
Oh good, a quota system.

C. Agency environment is welcoming and safe to members of various cultural groups the agency is funded to serve.
PASS/FAIL Agency articulates efforts taken to assure agency furnishings etc… reflect the cultural groups served.
I'm not sure what this means but I think that they will be buying imported furniture.

A. Measurement of cultural competence is an ongoing part of employee performance evaluation. Areas needing improvement are identified and a plan for improvement through training and education is implemented as a performance-improvement measure.
PASS/FAIL Agency includes measurement of cultural competence in employee performance evaluation or has a plan to begin implementation of this standard. Performance improvement includes plans for improvement in this area for employees.
Sample Employee performance review:
Supervisor: Now Mr. Smith, we noticed that you seem uncomfortable around the new furnishings we have to serve our diverse clientele.
Mr. Smith: Sir, that's a leather bondage chair.
Supervisor: Our sexual minorities have to feel at home when they come in for government services. Leather makes them feel at ease. We have also noticed that you no habla the Spanish...
Mr. Smith: Well sir, I just figured that since this was America that...

Agency management, staff and consumers participate in evaluating agency's cultural competence. Management and Board members engage in an annual review of plan to include improvement planning for areas identified as deficient.
PASS/FAIL Agency evaluates cultural competency plan at least annually. Evaluation of plan includes all levels of agency staff and consumers.
Not that they are wasting time...

Oregon Children’s Mental Health Initiative
Require culturally competent skills-based staff training on evidence-based practices and family involvement through prioritizing training resources and aggressively pursuing additional resources for this purpose.
Additional resources = more tax dollars

UO Cultural Competency Project
The "societal mandate" for the Cultural Competency Project arises from rapid demographic shifts reflected in Census data, and the majority opinion and amici curiae ("friend of the court") briefs filed in Grutter v. Bollinger (the University of Michigan affirmative action case decided in 2003).
Aaah, society mandated this.
Immigration and birthrate trends, population migration, self-definition shifts, and other factors will continue to reshape Oregon and the United States throughout the 21st Century. These dynamics will also reshape how we experience ourselves, interact with each other, form community, access social capital, and learn and work together.
Those crazy "self-identification" shifts. Today I'm a boy but tomorrow I might be a girl, who knows next week...

CoDaC Cultural Competency Project Vision Statement
Cultural competency can only be achieved if individuals increase self-awareness. This reaches far beyond "appreciating" or "valuing" diversity, and requires active as opposed to passive action...
Moving away from what has been called "ethnocentric monoculturalism" toward "sociocultural consciousness" is a necessary, yet challenging step toward cultural competency. Ethnocentric monoculturalism has the potential to be destructive, especially as it inhibits the educational and societal benefits which flow from our diversity insofar as it creates barriers to cross-cultural competence and understanding.
I know that we all have been disturbed by the barriers resulting from "ethnocentric multiculturalism." Thank God taxpayer funded universities are willing to combat it.

These are just a few of the 35,700 hits generated by a Google search of "Oregon, culturally, competent." I think that we should all take a minute to think "how can I treat someone different because of their ethnicity/sexual preference/economic status?"

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