NCAI: HIGHER EDUCATION ACT REAUTHORIZATION | Senate Seeking Input on Discussion Draft Language, House Releases Principles and Goals


HIGHER EDUCATION ACT REAUTHORIZATION | Senate Seeking Input on Discussion Draft Language, House Releases Principles and Goals

Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released the Higher Education Affordability Act plan which includes highlighting the priorities for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA). The committee also released Discussion Draft language of the Higher Education Affordability Act (HEAA). Included in the discussion draft language are several new grant initiatives including an innovation fund that provides grants to minority-serving institutions, including tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). Comments are being accepted until August 29, 2014 at 5:00pm EDT and can be sent to

The Discussion Draft focuses on 4 main goals:

  • Increasing college affordability;
  • Helping struggling borrowers;
  • Strengthening accountability; and
  • Improving transparency.

A summary of the Discussion Draft can be found here.

The House Education and Workforce Committee last week also released a white paper on the priorities for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. The white paper outlines the approach the committee will pursue when it introduces a series of bills to reauthorize the law later this year. The approach to the reauthorization will focus on the following principles:

  • Empowering students and families to make informed decisions;
  • Simplifying and improving student aid;
  • Promoting innovation, access, and completion; and
  • Ensuring strong accountability and a limited federal role.

Comments are currently not being accepted on the white paper.

NCAI will continue to keep tribes apprised of any movement on introduction of Higher Education legislation during the remaining months of this session of Congress.

NCAI Contact Information: Cesar Alvarez, Legislative Fellow –

Funded Research Grant: The Role of Native Language & Culture in Decreasing Discipline Problems and Increasing Academic Achievement for AI/AN Students

A brief description: 

American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students represent about 1 percent of the total U.S. school population yet they experience some of the highest dropout rates and are consistently over-represented among students identified for special education services and students suspended or expelled from school. The Native community has recommended that native language and culture be infused into school environments (e.g., by incorporating culturally relevant social skills lessons, using culturally relevant language, supporting strong parent participation) to increase AI/AN students’ sense of belonging, positive identity development, and increased self-awareness and cultural awareness. The cultural and linguistic diversity of this population preclude identifying specific approaches to discipline and academic learning that would be equally beneficial to all AI/AN students. Instead, generalizable mechanisms for blending specific linguistic and cultural elements with discipline and academic requirements that improve student outcomes may be identifiable. Data from the National Indian Education Study (NIES) along with data from the School-wide Information System (SWIS) allow for the exploration of these recommended strategies and their relationship to education outcomes.

The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between school personnel’s use of Native Language and Culture (NLC) in discipline and instruction and the behavioral and academic outcomes of AI/AN students along with important moderators and mediators of this relationship. The findings of this exploration study will lay the foundation for the development of interventions specifically designed to benefit the academic success of these students.

To read more details about the research, please click HERE!

Native Youth Summit Undertake Health Issues via Story-telling!

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is currently accepting for their Native Youth Summit. This years summit is hosted by the Navajo Nation and will take place in Window Rock, AZ, September 4-9. For more information contact Robert Foley

From the National Indian Health Board website:

The 2013 Native Youth Summit took place August 23-26, 2013 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City, Michigan. This was the National Indian Health Board’s (NIHB) 3rd Annual Native Youth Summit and was held in advance of our premiere conference, the National Annual Consumer Conference –The Dawn of a New Health Care System: Transforming Tribal Health through Tradition and Change. In keeping with the theme of transformation and standing on tradition, this year’s Tribal Youth Health Summit focused on two critical health issues in Indian Country: cancer and diabetes.

As Native people, we are from cultures of story-telling and during this Summit participating youth gained the tools and knowledge to tell their stories through digital film-making. Our sponsoring partners at the Summit were the Mayo Clinic Spirit of Eagles program and Healthy Native Communities Partnership. As a training partner, Healthy Native Communities Partnership worked with NIHB in preparation of the Summit to bring state-of-the-art training and technical assistance in creating digital stories. The three-day event culminated in the NIHB 2nd Annual Native Youth Film Festival on the last day of the Youth Summit and first day of the Annual Consumer Conference.

The three-day Native Youth Summit included digital story-telling workshops, health promotion/ disease prevention education sessions on the emerging issues of Diabetes and Cancer, and provided tools to create youth-developed prevention and education short films. Diabetes and cancer, the focus areas for the digital stories and the health education sessions, continue to be issues greatly affecting Tribal communities. By educating Native youth and creating Native youth health advocates, who will share these stories to change their communities, NIHB hope to reduce the incidence and prevalence of diabetes and cancer in Indian Country.

To view Summit participants’ digital stories, please CLICK HERE.

To view photos from the 2013 Youth Summit, please CLICK HERE.

Rosemary Christensen on NIEA & tribal education systems (Part II)

Dr. Martin Reinhardt interviews Rosemary Christensen, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, and co-founder of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA). In Part I of the video, Rosemary Christensen tells us what role NIEA should play with tribal education systems. The views and comments expressed herein are the speakers only and are not representative of any official organization or government.