Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education

The DOE uses an educational strategy that embraces students’ identities. We call it “culturally responsive-sustaining education (CR-SE).” It is a way of seeing diversity as a source of knowledge.

With CR-SE, students use their own identity to get education. They learn using aspects of their race, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or ability. Studies show that students learning with CR-SE are more active in class. They graduate more often, with better grades. Their self-esteem improves, and they become better citizens.

New York City is a diverse and inspiring city. But it, like much of America, is rife with bias and inequality. We want to give students mirrors that reflect the greatness of who their people are, and windows into the world that allow students to connect across cultures. To give all students both windows and mirrors, we will adopt a culturally responsive approach throughout all major policy areas.

Our Approach

CR-SE requires schools and districts to:

  • See and value the background, views, and needs of all students. This includes experiences related to race, culture, language, or ability.
  • Be aware of past and present forms of bias and oppression.
  • Identify and stop practices that boost historically advantaged groups at the expense of marginalized students.
  • Use teaching methods that are challenging, but honor students’ diversity. Students’ lives and identities should connect to their education. They should become critical thinkers and feel the agency to end inequality.
  • Employ staff with high expectations for all students. They must be able to examine their own personal beliefs around identity, while giving professional learning and support.
  • Build strong connections with students. Understand their lives, backgrounds, and identities.
  • Build partnerships with families and communities. These bonds can be a source of knowledge, and help shape school priorities.
  • Create emotional safe spaces and foster trust among students. In a conflict, use restorative practices to reconcile both sides. Nurture students’ identities and give them a sense of ownership and belonging.

Our Definition

New York City students live in a diverse, vibrant and inspiring city –a city that also reflects the complex system of biases and inequities deeply rooted in this country’s history, culture and institutions. The DOE commits to culturally responsive-sustaining education (CR-SE), a cultural view of learning and human development in which multiple forms of diversity (e.g., race, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ability) are recognized, understood, and regarded as indispensable sources of knowledge for rigorous teaching and learning. Culturally responsive-sustaining education uses educational strategies that leverage the various aspects of students’ identities, including the rich cultural, racial, historical, linguistic characteristics of students to provide mirrors that reflect the greatness of who their people are and windows into the world that allow students to connect across cultures. Numerous studies across the country show that CR-SE increases student participation, attendance, grade point averages, graduation rates, civic engagement, self-image, and critical thinking skills. To give all students both windows and mirrors, we will adopt a culturally responsive approach throughout all major policy areas.

What is CR-SE

Engaging in the work of CR-SE ensures that all students learn at high levels by requiring that schools and districts:

  • Value and affirm the varied experiences, perspectives and needs that students bring into the classroom - whether they be connected to racial/cultural background, language, disability or other - as essential assets and resources for learning, and meet students there;
  • Foster critical consciousness about historical and contemporary forms of bias and oppression;
  • Identify and interrupt policies and practices that center on historically advantaged social/cultural groups and lead to predictable outcomes of success or failure for historically marginalized students;
  • Use curricula and pedagogy that are academically challenging, honor and reflect students’ diversity, connect learning to students’ lives and identities, challenge students to be critical thinkers, and promote student agency to end societal inequities;
  • Improve classroom and institutional practice through a mindset of high expectations for all students and deep examination and knowledge of one’s personal beliefs, assumptions, experiences and identities through ongoing professional learning and support;
  • Build strong connections and relationships with students, which requires understanding their lives, backgrounds and identities;
  • Develop close partnerships with families and communities as sources of knowledge, experience and skills, and leaders in shaping school priorities and deepening learning;
  • Develop restorative practices in schools, including using restorative justice as a response to harm, fostering trusting relationships among students, creating emotional safe spaces that recognize and nurture students’ identities, and giving students a sense of ownership and belonging in the school.

Request for Information

Introduction

In order to help prepare for and inform a possible future procurement, the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”) is seeking input and information about culturally responsive-sustaining education (“CR-SE”) practices as they relate to curriculum and instruction.

The DOE is seeking input and information from individuals and organizations that have knowledge and/or experience in this area to help the DOE understand best instructional practices that can be used as part of curriculum in grades kindergarten through eight that maximize the potential educational benefits of CR-SE.

Overview of CR-SE

The New York State Education Department (“NYSED”) and the DOE have adopted education policies that embrace students’ identities. These policies call for “culturally responsive-sustaining education.” CR-SE is a way of seeing diversity as a source of knowledge as represented in the New York City Department of Education Definition of Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education, above, and the  NYSED Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework.

CR-SE is a cultural view of learning and human development in which multiple forms of diversity (e.g., race, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ability) are recognized, understood, and regarded as indispensable sources of knowledge for rigorous teaching and learning. Culturally responsive-sustaining education uses educational strategies that leverage the various aspects of students’ identities, including the rich cultural, racial, historical, linguistic characteristics of students to provide mirrors that reflect the greatness of who their people are and windows into the world that allow students to connect across cultures. Numerous studies across the country show that CR-SE increases student participation, attendance, grade point averages, graduation rates, civic engagement, self-image, and critical thinking skills. To give all students both windows and mirrors, we will adopt a culturally responsive approach throughout all major policy areas.

Engaging in the work of CR-SE ensures that all students learn at high levels by requiring that schools and districts:

  • Value and affirm the varied experiences, perspectives and needs that students bring into the classroom - whether connected to racial/cultural background, language, disability or other - as essential assets and resources for learning;
  • Foster critical consciousness about historical and contemporary forms of bias and oppression;
  • Identify and interrupt policies and practices that center on historically advantaged social/cultural groups and lead to predictable outcomes of success or failure for historically marginalized students;
  • Build strong connections and relationships between adults and students, which requires understanding their lives, backgrounds and identities;
  • Develop close partnerships with families and communities as sources of knowledge, experience and skills, and leaders in shaping school priorities and deepening learning; and
  • Develop restorative practices in schools, including using restorative justice as a response to harm, fostering trusting relationships among students, creating emotional safe spaces that recognize and nurture students’ identities, and giving students a sense of ownership and belonging in the school.

In addition, of particular relevance to this Request for Information (“RFI”), CR-SE requires schools and districts to:

  • Use curricula and pedagogy that are academically challenging, honor and reflect students’ diversity, connect learning to students’ lives and identities, challenge students to be critical thinkers, and promote student agency to end societal inequities; and
  • Improve classroom and institutional practice through a mindset of high expectations for all students and deep examination and knowledge of one’s personal beliefs, assumptions, experiences and identities through ongoing professional learning and support.

In short, with CR-SE, students use their own identity (e.g., aspects of their race, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or ability) to enable and unlock learning. We want to give students mirrors that reflect the greatness of who their people are, and windows into the world that allow students to connect across cultures.

Information Requested

The DOE is seeking input and information from individuals and organizations that have knowledge or experience in instructional practices related to or in the spirit of CR-SE to help the DOE understand how best to advance this approach to learning in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The DOE is seeking this information to assist in preparing for a future procurement for instructional materials.

In particular, the DOE would like information regarding how best to identify and utilize the following types of educational resources that will be used in service of CR-SE:

Culturally responsive instructional materials that align with all New York State standards.

  • Curricular materials that include representations of people of diverse races, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, and disabilities.
  • English Language Learner and Students with Disabilities supports that are woven directly into whole-class lessons, and that include targeted academic language development, support with building background knowledge when appropriate, and guidance for teachers on providing multiple opportunities for ELLs to grapple with language.

This list of educational resources and questions is non-exhaustive and is intended to be illustrative of the broader types of educational materials that the DOE intends to solicit and utilize in furtherance of its commitment to CR-SE. This RFI extends to more generalized input regarding the adoption of CR-SE practices and how to identify educational resources that align with the DOE’s goals regarding advancement of CR-SE in all classrooms and in all schools.

Response Process

If you would like to assist, please reply to this RFI. All responses shall be submitted electronically to the RFI contact identified below by March 12, 2020.

To respond to the RFI, please respond to the following three questions in an email to CRSEInfo@schools.nyc.gov. Include the question prompts in your email and provide your responses below each question. Please limit each response to each question to 500 words.

  1. How can the DOE best advance a culturally responsive-sustaining education (CR-SE) approach to learning in curriculum, instruction, and assessment?
  2. What are some best practices in implementing CR-SE in schools?
  3. Additional information or input?

All responses will be considered public. The DOE shall not have any responsibility for any costs or expenses incurred by any responder related to its preparation of a response to this RFI.

In addition, the DOE may contact you with additional questions about the work you have done and best practices for this type of project. If you are willing to be contacted by the DOE in follow-up to your response submission, please provide your contact information including name, organization (if applicable), and phone number. All responses to any additional questions will likewise be considered public.

This RFI and follow-up will not result in a contract award and is merely intended to assist the DOE in crafting a subsequent solicitation. This RFI is not intended as a solicitation for the award of a contract or a prerequisite for participation in any future solicitation. No contract will be awarded as a result of this RFI and response to this RFI is not required in order to respond to any subsequent procurement request. The DOE is under no legal or contractual obligation to responders to this RFI. The DOE reserves the right to proceed in any matter that they, in their sole discretion, deem appropriate. Please be aware depending on the number of responses to this RFI, not all parties may be contacted. Your responses are appreciated.

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