State Politics

Rights groups back Wake schools’ cultural proficiency program

Local civil-rights groups, including the NAACP, are supporting the Wake County school system’s efforts to promote cultural proficiency, saying it will help avoid the problems of “negative stereotypical history” and “premature labeling” based on third-grade state test scores.

Wake’s “cultural proficiency” training is designed to help the school system’s predominantly white workforce understand the experiences of an increasingly diverse student population. The staff training uses a book that incorporates the idea that heterosexual white men in America benefit from a system of privilege and entitlement while other groups have been victims of systemic oppression.

The training has come under fire from some conservatives. But the Education Justice Alliance, Wake County NAACP, Track My Steps and the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children called the training “a major first step in dealing with long-standing issues and concerns related to understanding how race and economics impact children of color in Wake County schools.”

“To be an effective 21st century school system, it is imperative that all of those responsible for education understand the cultural practices and behaviors, norms, beliefs, and familial dynamics, which may indeed differ, not wrong – nor inferior, but simply different, from the culture that the educator is from,” the groups said in a statement this week. “We believe this training is relevant and necessary.”

Political events

▪ Law professor Gene Nichol, director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC-Chapel Hill, will speak on hunger and poverty in North Carolina and legislative options at The Wake Democratic Men’s Club meeting on Monday, March 9, at the Holiday Inn Downtown, 320 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. Doors open at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the program at 7 p.m. Make dinner reservations no later than Thursday, March 5, to

Compiled by T. Keung Hui and Andrew Kenney.

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