Educational Justice Praxis Versus Cultural Competence: Compete or Complete?

Dilek Kayaalp
University of North Florida, College of Education and Human Services


In this study I investigated the notions of culture, cultural responsiveness and educational rights to help pre-service teachers become culturally competent throughout their teaching practices. The research is designed as a qualitative inquiry. I conducted interviews with 12 teachers and teacher educators who work in public schools, nonprofit organizations, and universities in Florida, United States. The findings of this study indicate that the impacts of structural inequalities (racism), dominant cultural norms (whiteness) and teacher’s habitus (white fragility) on the marginalization of ethno-racial minority students, their educational rights, and the school settings. The findings suggest that focusing on culture and the dominant cultural norms do not mask the forms of injustices as the forms of dominations and power imbalances are the outcomes of the cultural framework. Therefore, combating racism, including white privilege and white fragility, and accepting distinct cultural identities of students are not competing but complementing issues in educational justice praxis.