Federal Officials Say Native American School in Minnesota Needs Help

Federal officials got a firsthand look at one deteriorating Native American school in Minnesota Tuesday–they said it’s one of many suffering similarly throughout the country.

After touring Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School in Bena, Minnesota, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell said it’s just one example of how the country is letting down it’s Native American students.

Employees said at this school about 30 miles west of Grand Rapids, they don’t have many of the daily classroom materials they need. Jewell said the science rooms particularly suffer. Used previously as a bus garage, part of the school is made with metal, and as employees said, that doesn’t lend well to the extreme cold weather the area often faces.

“It needs a lot of work and there are a lot of issues mainly when the whether gets very cold,” Benjamin Bowstring, an employee with the school, said. He said bats often find their home in the school as well.

The school is Bureau of Indian Education funded and also receives some dollars from the Leech Lake Ojibwe tribe, but Jewell said that hasn’t been enough.

There are 183 Native American schools funded through the BIE across the country and more than 60 of those are operating under poor condition. Jewell estimated today it could cost more than $25 million to completely restore the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School and Wasburn guessed it could cost nearly $1 billion more to fix all the others.

“It is important that we make progress, and you’ve got to start in the areas that have the biggest safety issues, where you’ve got supportive people from the tribal standpoint, from a school administration standpoint and this is a great example,” Jewell said.

She said the next step is asking Congress and administration for their support.

“It’s awareness, it’s priority and frankly as a country, you can’t save your way to prosperity,” Jewell said. “You can’t save your way to having well-educated Indian children.”

 

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DOI Announces $2.5 Million to Promote Tribal Control and Operation of BIE-Funded Schools

Interior Department Announces $2.5 million to Promote Tribal Control and Operation of BIE-Funded Schools

Funding Opportunity Part of Bureau of Indian Education’s implementation of American Indian Education Study Group’s “Blueprint for Reform;” Sovereignty in Indian Education grants will promote tribal self-determination in education through tribal control of BIE-funded schools

WASHINGTON, D.C.–As part of the Obama Administration’s historic commitment to ensurethat all students attending Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools receive an effectiveeducation delivered to them by tribes, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn today announced that the BIE will fund $2.5million in Sovereignty in Indian Education competitive grants. The purpose of these grants is to provide funding to federally recognized tribes and their tribal education departments to promotetribal control and operation of BIE-funded schools on their reservations.

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From Indiaz.com- Sandra Fox: Fixing the education system for our Indian children

“It is encouraging that more and more individuals, groups, tribes, and government officials are recognizing the need for major change in Indian education.

Most of the time, however, the focus of recommendations for change is on the facets of the system that have least to do with improving instruction, such things as who should be in charge and where the power should physically be located. With these kinds of changes, Indian children will still be left behind.

Until the area of appropriate instruction becomes the topic of discussion and investigation, academic achievement of Indian children will not improve. The facts are:

The State of Education for Native Students report by the Education Trust (2013) indicates that the academic achievement of Native children showed no improvement under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) from 2005 to 2011 according to results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and only 18% of fourth grade Native students in the United States scored at the proficient and advanced levels in reading achievement. BIE students scored the lowest of all Indian groups identified, including their counterparts in state public schools. BIE students scored lower than students in major urban school districts other than Detroit.The 2014 Kids Count: Race for Results report by the Casey Foundation rates American children’s success based on 12 indicators including reading and math proficiency, high school graduation, teen birthrates, employment prospects, family income/education, and neighborhood poverty levels. On a scale of 1 to 1000, white children rated 704, Latino children 404, American Indian children 387, New Mexico Indian children 293, Arizona Indian children 282, North Dakota Indian children 280 and South Dakota Indian children 185, the lowest score for any group in any state.

After many years of No Child Left Behind, the results for Indian children speak for themselves.Schools were strictly regulated and trained in terms of the requirements of the law governing instruction for poor children which included the use of an instructional approach that is opposite of the research recommendations for improving Indian student learning.

The programs utilized under NCLB did not allow for recognizing and addressing learning styles, and they included instructional strategies that were generally not compatible with the learning styles of Indian students. Elementary science and social studies classes were removed from the curriculum in favor of drill and kill math and reading instruction for most of the day for memorizing lower order skills with student “seat time” where students had no movement or hands-on learning activities. Schools with Indian children utilized professional development providers that did not know about Indian people, Indian education, or about how Indian students learn best, and, in fact, discouraged the use of anything cultural in instruction.

Poor children across this country did not do well under No Child Left Behind. What is described above is contrary to what is known about teaching and learning, but like sailors on a sinking ship, we run to the other end of the boat. In this case, we run from an incessant focus on lower order skills to a focus on higher order skills. Higher order skills are very important and are very needed in the Indian world, but the following must also be taken into consideration.

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