The Critical HELP Framework

Dr. Ronald W. Whitaker, II

This post is created in partnership with @UDLPartners

An Overview

Are you wondering how you can have “deeper level” conversations that would push your teachers, staff, and educational leaders to grapple with institutional inequities? Are you also pondering how to employ equitable practices to deal with institutional inequities that might exist within your milieu? Then perhaps you should consider the CRITICAL HELP FRAMEWORK.

The Framework

The CRITICAL HELP FRAMEWORK is designed to push teachers and educational leaders to think more deeply about racism, institutional structures of inequity, and deficit mindsets that might exist within their context. The framework has an interdisciplinary focus because the issues that we are dealing with in educational spaces are multifaceted, therefore, the HELP FRAMEWORK integrates other perspectives into the conversation and intervention strategies.
The first part of the framework is the H, history.  As educators, we must continue to challenge our thinking and understanding of the world around us to ensure that we recognize the current context that each student is experiencing.  To do so, we must learn from others through listening to and reading about stories that differ from our own.  We must seek to understand the intricacies of our nation’s history and policies and how they have deliberately pushed some forward while holding others back.  As one way to continue on your learning journey, we encourage you to visit Facing History and Ourselves for a plethora of resources that support historical analysis. 
The second component of the framework is the E, equity.  We must move beyond the thinking that equality is sufficient.  It is not. “There is a difference between equality and equity. Equality means sameness, while equity is the commitment to being responsive to the particular circumstances of students and communities.” (Whitaker, 2020)


The third component of the framework is the L, Love: the importance of students experiencing a sense of belonging and its direct impact on student outcomes.   “Caring teachers expect (highly), relate (genuinely), and facilitate (relentlessly).” (Gay, 2018) “Regardless of the conditions that our students are dealing with, we will not view them from a deficit perspective but rather, we are fighting to remove the barriers.” (Whitaker, 2020)

The final component of the framework is the P, the practical application of programs, practices, and pedagogy.  “Curriculum, content, and teaching strategies, [that align with culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies], for students of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds offer students opportunity and access to gain significant knowledge and skills in the classroom while upholding the unique ways that students learn, communicate, and interact.” (Whitaker, 2020)

Below are a number of organizations that have created classroom resources that are ready to use in your teaching tomorrow. 


about Dr. Ronald Whitaker, II

Dr. Ronald W. Whitaker, II is the Culturally Responsive Pedagogy Assistant Professor of Education at Cabrini University. In this role, he is intentional about incorporating culturally responsive tenets into Cabrini’s undergraduate and graduate educational programs. At Cabrini, he also serves as the Assistant Dean in the School of Education, Director of District and School Relations, and the Director for the Center for Urban Education, Equity, and Improvement (CUEEI).

For more information about Dr. Whittaker’s work, visit