TEDNA Comments to Department of Education on the STEP Program

Here are TEDNA’s comments to the Department of Education regarding its proposed changes to the STEP Program.  We will put these comments in our Consultation Materials section.  TEDNA also co-hosted a webinar regarding the STEP program last week.  If you were unable to attend Education Northwest and TEDNA’s webinar, you can view the recording here.  We encourage any Tribal Education Agency or Department that is contemplating applying for the next round of STEP Grants to watch the webinar.  The PPT slides can be seen here. TEDNA’s overview of the STEP Grant can be seen here.

The Hechinger Report: Tribal colleges give poor return on more than $100 million a year in federal money

Here.  An excerpt:

FORT YATES, North Dakota — Breanne Lugar says the only reason she enrolled in college was so she could move away from the house she shared on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation with her parents, her boyfriend, and her five children.

“I never wanted to come to school,” says Lugar, 26, who signed up at Sitting Bull College, one of the nation’s tribal colleges and universities located on Indian reservations and run entirely by tribes. “I hated school.”
But after a semester of classes toward a degree in business administration helped her move from a job as blackjack dealer to the finance department of the tribal casino, Lugar, a sophomore, has become a fervent advocate of the college.

Interesting read, but I think a more in depth discussion of the trust responsibility would be in order.  As the article mentions, there are a lot of dynamics at play here, many of which were imposed. As NIEA has mentioned in its 14th Annual Legislative Summit materials:

United States history is replete with policies created to destroy Native identity and assimilate Native Americans into the values and beliefs of European immigrants migrating to America. This same history has given birth to a trust responsibility enshrined in the U.S. Constitution requiring the U.S. to care for its Native American beneficiaries, including a duty to educate them. Unfortunately, the trust responsibility was too often used as a tool to impose ideals and beliefs that harmed rather than helped the Native American beneficiaries it was intended to serve.


Indianz.com – Editorial: Indian schools deserve more federal and state funds

Here. An excerpt:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune is running a four-part series on the “separate and unequal” system at the Bureau of Indian Education:

The Bug school, part of the federally funded Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) system, is partly housed in a 30-year-old metal “pole barn” built as an auto mechanic school and bus garage. Tribal leaders and staff on the K-12 campus, which has about 200 students, have been pushing for a new high school for a decade.But federal funding for new BIE schools has declined precipitously over the past decade and likely remains years away. Students in Armstrong’s class want their little brothers and sisters to have a modern high school and don’t understand why federal officials responsible for BIE schools aren’t advocating for them.“We’re going to school in a tin can,’’ said Terra Warner, a ninth-grader. “If they really cared, we’d have a new school.”Given the federal government’s failure at the Bug school, state-level funding — from both public and private sources — is needed and justified.That the Bug high school needs to be replaced now, not at some point when federal officials get around to it, is glaringly obvious from the moment a visitor sets foot inside.