Update: Grand Forks American Indian students, administration debate allowing eagle feathers as graduation attire

The School District has agreed to permit native students wear eagle feathers during the graduation ceremony this spring.  The letter of approval from the Superintendent can be seen here. Our previous post about this matter is here.

The impressive packet in support of the request is here.

WP: Administration to seek $1 billion for tribal schools

Here, from Washington Post.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says it will ask Congress for $1 billion next year to run schools for Native American children — including millions in new money to help fix crumbling buildings.

The request — $150 million more than in this year’s budget — sets aside $58 million in new funding for school construction and $18 million in new funding for repairs. It also seeks $33 million to expand the schools’ Internet capabilities.

“It’s hard not to feel sad or angry when I look at the condition of the facilities,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters, adding, “We can and we must do better.”

The federally run schools situated primarily on remote and impoverished reservations are among the nation’s worst performing. About 48,000 students attend the 183 schools in 23 states.

The schools have a tainted legacy dating to the 19th century when Native American children were shipped to boarding schools. The federal government continues to have a treaty and trust responsibility to run them, but they’ve historically struggled with issues such as financial mismanagement, bureaucracy, poverty and attracting high-quality teachers.

Since President Barack Obama’s summer visit to a North Dakota reservation, the administration has pushed ahead with a plan to give tribes more control, but the endeavor has been complicated by the estimated $1 billion in disrepair at the schools.

Mold, mice and leaky roofs are among the problems. More than 60 of the schools are listed in poor condition, and less than one-third have the Internet and the computer capability to administer new student assessments rolling out in much of the country.

Late last year, Congress provided the schools with a $40 million bump in annual spending for 2015 over the previous year — about $19 million for school replacement. That meant funding to finish the Beatrice Rafferty school in Maine and design new facilities for the Little Singer Community and Cove Day schools in Arizona, according to the Interior Department.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a member of the House Appropriations Committee and a Native American, said in a statement that he appreciates the effort to put more money into tribal education.

“In the days ahead, as my colleagues in the House and Senate seek to find common ground with the administration, I remain hopeful that we can make significant progress in Indian country during this session of Congress,” he said.

PRNewswire: College Board Announces Major Expansion in Access to Scholarships for the Millions of Students Who Take the PSAT/NMSQT®

The College Board has announced partnerships with six minority scholarship funds including the American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC) and the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars (AIGCS). Together, the partnerships will allow for millions of students to better access scholarships specifically for low-income and minority students.

An excerpt:

“NEW YORK, Jan. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Through new partnerships with five of the country’s leading scholarship providers, the College Board will expand access to scholarship opportunities earlier in high school to change students’ trajectories and help inform their decisions about pursuing college. The American Indian Graduate Center and American Indian Graduate Center Scholars (AIGC and AIGCS), Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF), Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (JKCF), and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) will use information from the PSAT/NMSQT® to expand access to nearly $180 million in existing scholarship dollars to low-income and minority students.

The PSAT/NMSQT information will allow AIGC and AIGCS, APIASF, HSF, the JKCF, and UNCF to reach a better representation of high school students across the country who may not have otherwise been aware they were eligible for scholarship opportunities. Outreach will begin with students from the class of 2015 who have taken the PSAT/NMSQT during high school and opted in to receive materials from scholarship providers.

The PSAT/NMSQT is the nation’s largest and most representative precollege assessment. In October 2014, a record 3.8 million students took the exam. As a result of the College Board’s ongoing efforts to expand access to the PSAT/NMSQT to a broader group of students, 77 percent (897,567) of minority students who graduated from public high schools in 2014 took the PSAT/NMSQT at least once.

The announcement reinforces the College Board’s commitment to making assessments a platform for delivering opportunity. These new partnerships, combined with the College Board’s long-standing partnership with National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), create a portfolio of opportunities that reach every major segment of students. The scholarships will now range from programs focused purely on academic merit, to those available to students who meet specific financial, racial, ethnic, and other eligibility requirements.”

To view the article in it’s entirety, click HERE.

TEDNA Priorities for the ESEA Re-Authorization and Indian Education

As you are probably aware, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee introduced their draft discussion language for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) last week. As the single best opportunity for comprehensively including tribes and their education agencies within federal education law, it is critical that we coordinate our advocacy efforts around the ESEA reauthorization.

Here are TEDNA’s priorities with an excerpt:

The following is a list of the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly’s (“TEDNA”) top education priorities:

  1. Authorize state and tribal co-governance agreements to strengthen tribal participation in education;
  2. Establish the “Tribal Education Agency Project” to provide for the authorization of Indian tribes to be eligible to operate title programs;
  3. Make Indian tribes the preferred eligible entity in rural areas on or near Indian reservations to receive NCLB, Title VII, Indian Education Formula Grants, and authorize Indian tribes to be eligible for technical assistance to develop such grant applications;
  4. Retain the tribal education department appropriation authorizations; and
  5. Provide Indian tribes access to tribal member student data by amending FERPA.

TEDNA also joins and supports NIEA’s priorities, which we posted on here.

Next Steps:

1.) Send a letter to your Senators and the Senate HELP Committee asking them to support TEDNA and NIEA’s priorities, including the Tribal Education Agency Project.

2.) Provide ESEA Comments to Senate HELP Committee by Monday, February 2, 2015 at: FixingNCLB@help.senate.gov. Comments will be shared with all members of the Senate HELP Committee.

Should you need a model letter, please contact Matt Campbell at mcampbell@narf.org or Clint Bowers, NIEA Policy Associate, at cbowers@niea.org.