Statistics show Native American children in BIE schools are falling behind other minority children. MSNBC reports on one girl’s experience in Pine Ridge, SD. An excerpt:

Carleigh is a Native American sixth grader at the Wounded Knee School located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where a well-documented plague of poverty and violence has festered since the Oglala Sioux were forced onto the reservation more than a century ago. There is virtually no infrastructure, few jobs and no major economic engines. Families are destabilized by substance abuse and want. Children often go hungry and adults die young.

These realities wash onto the schoolyards here with little runoff or relief, trapping generations of young people in hopelessness and despair.

“We’re in an urgent situation, an emergency state,” said Alice Phelps, principal at the Wounded Knee School. “But underneath all the baggage is intelligence, potential, and these children all have that.”

. . . .

The government is starting to own up to its failures. In a startling new draft report released in April by the federal Bureau of Indian Education, which oversees 183 schools on 64 reservations in 23 states, the agency draws attention to its own inability to deliver a quality education to Native students. BIE-funded schools are chronically failing and “one of the lowest-performing set of schools in the country,” according to the report.

“BIE has never faced more urgent challenges,” the report said. “Each of these challenges has contributed to poor outcomes for BIE students.”

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